The French-owned electricity company EDF has told a Welsh Assembly committee that the 300,000 tonnes of mud it wants to dump in the sea off Penarth from the site of the 3 Hinkley Point nuclear power stations is “not radioactive“.
EDF claims that the mud – which is to be dredged from the shore at the Hinkley Point Nuclear site on the Somerset side of the Bristol Channel – “poses no threat to human health or to the environment”.
The state-owned French firm says worries that the mud (which is due to be dumped just a mile offshore from Penarth – could be “toxic” are “wrong, alarmist – and go against all internationally-accepted scientific evidence”.
EDF says the Hinkley Point mud has been “tested independently to highly conservative standards” – a claim which is strongly disputed by other experts who say that much more thorough tests need to be carried out tests need to be carried out. They believe the mud could have become contaminated by radioactive discharges from Hinkley Point’s existing nuclear power stations.
The dredging operation is to enable a new jetty to be built on the shoreline at Hinkley Point for the area’s 3rd nuclear power station – the £19,600,000,000 “Hinkley C” station.
As already reported by PDN [ see http://tinyurl.com/yd8hoohw ] – last month EDF’s head of environment Chris Fayers – received a grilling from the Vale of Glamorgan Council .
In this second inquisition Fayers had to try to convince members of a Welsh Assembly “scrutiny committee” that there is really nothing to worry about .
A public on-line petition initiated by Welsh expert Tim Deere Jones which calls for a suspension of the marine licence to permit dumping off Penarth – has attracted 7,171 signatures.
A second petition by Greenpeace has been signed by more than 87,000 people. An open letter has also been presented to Energy Secretary Lesley Griffiths on behalf of a coalition of 10 international ocean conservation charities.
It’s already been established that no environmental impact assessment has been carried on the scheme to dump the sediment at the disposal site – known as “Cardiff Grounds” – just a mile out to sea from Penarth.
A presentation prepared for AMs by EDF showed that someone spending 4 hours a day, 365 days a year on the shore at Penarth – and who eats 65 kilogrammes of locally-caught fish a year – would receive 90% of their annual naturally-occurring radiological dose from the environment – and the remaining 10% from artificial sources.
The theoretical exposure to the radioactivity in the sediment would include anything inhaled from any sediment that might accumulate on the Penarth shore.
EDF say that combining natural and artificial levels of radioactivity together, any exposure would be 10,000 times LESS what an average airline pilot receives every year. than an airline pilot’s annual dose. It would also be 750 times LESS than the average dose received by a resident of Pembrokeshire due to naturally occurring Radon gas in local rocks.
Dr David Richards, a reader in physical geography at the University of Bristol told the Welsh Assembly committee that radioactivity in the Hinkley Point mud was no greater than on the salt marshes near the coast at Portishead and Sand Bay – “barely above background radiation” he said. Dr Richards says public needs to understand better what was constitutes an acceptable dose of radioactivity.
However Welsh expert Tim Deere-Jones, a marine pollution consultant, who has spearheaded the campaign against the dumping told AMs “we should be extremely cautious of how we dispose of this sediment.”
Mr Deere Jones says the mud should be left where it is – at Hinkley Point – and not dumped off Penarth.
Now the chairman of the Welsh Assembly’s environment committee Mike Hedges has called for an independent third-party to test samples of the sediment before any of it is moved – or dumped.