The three nuclear power reactors at Hinkley Point on the Somerset Coast – as seen from Penarth

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”.

Families taking a dip in the sea on Penarth Beach may be in future be receiving doses of radioactivity from mud to be dumped offshore at Cardiff Grounds – according to environmentalist Tim Deere-Jones

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.

The Cardiff Grounds – where dredged mud from the entrance channel to Cardiff Docks is dumped. Now potentially radioactive mud dredged from Bridgewater Bay and Hinkley Point is to be dumped there as well

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.

Self-styled marine pollution consultant Tim Deere-Jones has voiced his concerns in a BBC News interview

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,

Welsh Labour Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths appears to know little about the scheme. “It was all a long time ago” she says

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.”

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  1. Penileaks says:

    I believe that it is a legal requirement that an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), is carried out before such possibly polluted material is moved/dumped anywhere and this should have been carried out before any licence to move and dump this material was ever granted.
    It is a simple matter to answer the question on whether it is safe or not. If an assessment was carried out, the EIA report will exist and should be made available a public scrutiny by the Welsh Government and assuming that it shows that there will be no risk to people or the environment, the matter is closed. If on the other hand an independent EIA was not carried out before the licence was granted, the licence is invalid and the process for applying for a new one should start again.

  2. Anne Greagsby says:

    Would we trust an EIA even if it was carried out?

    • DRT Andrews says:

      As opposed to trusting our own uninformed, prejudicial judgements you mean?

      • Aelwyn says:

        Are you stamping out all questions, DRT Andrews?
        Heaven forbid we should challenge those paid to ‘know best’!

      • DRT Andrews says:

        Thanks for the attention Aelwyn. No I’m not but I am disinclined to to let some people get away unchallenged when they make unsubstantiated, uninformed comments based on agenda and dogma.

  3. Neil Hackavoy says:

    A correction – Neil McEvoy is no longer a Plaid Cymru AM. He is an Independent. Hell – or the radioactive Bristol Channel – will freeze over before he is readmitted to the Assembly Plaid group.

  4. John Powell says:

    This is why the private sector should be kept out of matters such as this.
    The failure of the Right is so obvious here, but so also is the feebleness of the Welsh government.

  5. Hugh Hunt says:

    Have a mudpack treatment using mud from Penarth beach, it’ll leave your skin glowing!

  6. Tim Hughes says:

    Because the flood tide is of shorter duration than the ebb tide and yet the same volume (approximately) flows out as in, then the average velocity is higher on the flood tide, even allowing for the nett downstream inflow from the rivers. So the sediments are trapped in the estuary effectively for ever. Their location is also fixed up to a point. That is why the water is always turbid at Penarth.

  7. Penarth Pedaller says:

    “Marine radioactivity expert Tim Deere-Jones” is an adviser to various environmental groups (Greenpeace, for example), but appears to hold no relevant academic or professional qualifications other than a vaguely-defined BSc, possibly from the mid 1980s.

    Neil McEvoy statement that “No dose of radiation is acceptable for human health” is a soundbite showing a complete misunderstanding of the natural world, considering that we are constantly exposed to radiation every day of our lives.

    Please can we get back to listening to real scientists, who actually know about the subject they’re talking about?

    • Max Wallis says:

      Why insult Cardiff University (perhaps when University College Cardiff) with “vaguely-defined BSc”, particularly one from their Biosciences dept, with its long record as research leader? Tim Deere-Jones cites his engagement as adviser to the NFLA (nuclear-free Local Authorities) led by Manchester City Council including Cardiff Council as a member.
      Politicians including McEvoy tend to exaggerate, but no radio-nuclides are safe for health. The UK signed up to the OSPAR agreement against sea dumping of radioactive waste, and to restoring levels in the marine environment to near to zero or historic levels. That was to be achieved by 2020, but successive UK Governments have made excuses and even plan to increase levels to facilitate the French Hinkley C nuclear plant.

      • Penarth Peddler says:

        At the time of writing, the most I’d been able to find about his qualifications was from LinkedIn, which lists a number of subjects and no institution. Obviously no insult to Cardiff or its predecessors was intended.

        I would still argue that knowledge of the effects of radioactivity on marine life, and more importantly knowledge of the levels likely to be involved here, is significantly more specialised. Being an adviser to pressure groups does not make him qualified, just vocal.

  8. penarthblog says:

    Leaving the EU will be the biggest mistake for the country in centuries.

  9. anthony williams says:

    What about dumping the mud on the estate of HRH Charles P.O.W. he might wish to grow very magic mushrooms there.

  10. penarthblog says:

    Sorry, posted in the wrong place!

  11. Max Wallis says:

    There’s reason for calling Tim Deere-Jones ‘expert’ in the issue started from his post-grad study of radioactivity on Flatholm. How do radionuclides like uranium and its decay products get there, in quantities that are taken up in vegetation and wildlife.? His explanation that they concentrate in surface films that form into bubbles and the spray bubbles on bursting give microdrops that blow onto Flatholm has become a solid research finding – that radioactive discharge into the sea does not just disperse harmlessly, but some comes back to land via this sea-to-land transfer mechanism.
    He’s written a number of related research reports, and articles critical of the government’s laxity on marine radioactive pollution, eg.
    In relation to the Hinkley mud row,we know Hinkey Point nuclear station has discharged a lot of nasties over the years (can’t do the same in modern times) some of which accumulated in the Bridgewater Bay muds. They plan to excavating these muds and drop them from a bottom-opening dredger into Cardiff Deep – a really good way of dispersing a good fraction into the tidal currents. I’d bet the nuclear company didn’t do a proper study – first because they sampled only the surface mud, not the deeper old mud; second because sea-to-land transfer of radioactivity is not officially recognised.
    Why bring the dubious Hinkley mud up the Channel to the Cardiff Deep, into our “special area of conservation” – why not dump it further down the estuary? Perhaps because dumping radioactive wastes at sea is forbidden by Treaty, and by doing it quietly in the normal Cardiff Deep (effectively a bottomless hole) they can get round the Treaty.

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