The Welsh Labour Government is coming under fire for allowing polluted, radioactive mud to be dredged from the sea bed in Bridgewater Bay near the Hinkley Point nuclear power station and dumped in the sea off Penarth.
The licence allowing the scheme was apparently agreed in 2013. It permits 300,000 tonnes of polluted mud from near the old Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station in Somerset to be dredged up and transported to an area in Bristol Channel off Penarth called “Cardiff Grounds”.
The French-owned nuclear power company – EDF Energy which us undertaking the project – claims the plan will not be “harmful to humans or to the environment”.
The dredging will take place near the decommissioned old “Hinkley Point A” power station and is part of the a £19,600,000,000 scheme to buld trhe new “Hinkley Point C” power station. The radioactive mud is to be dredged up from Bridgewater Bay to enable water discharge pipes and cooling intakes for the new power station to be installed.
Cardiff Grounds is currently used as a dumping ground for inert dredged mud from the approach channels to Cardiff and Newport Docks and at one time was used to dump colliery waste .
Marine radioactivity expert Tim Deere-Jones says scientific sampling of the mud from Bridgewater Bay – to check for potentially “harmful contaminants” has not been adequate and says “low level waste from the nuclear plant had entered the [ Bridgewater Bay ] site for more than 50 years” – and asserts there is a lack of knowledge about the potential harm of moving the mud.
Mr Deere-Jones – who describes himself as a self-employed musician, poet, marine pollution consultant and environmental journalist – says “Rather than being relatively stable at the Hinkley site it is being churned up and brought over here [i.e to Cardiff Grounds] to be dumped. Radioactive and non-radioactive pollutants will inevitably enter inshore waters and coastal environments.”
Mr Jones claims that people living near the coast “could be exposed to doses of marine radioactivity.”
Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Neil McEvoy says the licence – granted by the Welsh Labour Government should be revoked until a full environmental impact assessment had been carried out. He says “No dose of radiation is acceptable for human health so it beggars belief that the Welsh Government would allow material from a nuclear site to be dumped in Welsh waters,”
The Welsh Labour Government minister for the environment – Lesley Griffiths – said she couldn’t comment on the issue but claimed that “All marine applications are considered in line with legal requirements.
She told the BBC ““I understand a valid marine licence is in place and there are conditions that need to be complied with by the licence holder before any disposal can take place.”
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says that protecting people and the environment is a “fundamental concern” and is to require further sampling before any radioactive sediment is dumped at Cardiff Grounds.
The French EDF company claims to have already sampled the polluted mud and asserts that “the activities pose no threat to human health or the environment.”