A start is to be made on Thursday next week on the controversial dumping of 320,000 tonnes of allegedly radioactive mud in the Bristol Channel just a mile off the Penarth sea front.
The mud comes from the vicinity of the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor site where a third nuclear power station is now being built by the French energy company EDF – and will be dumped at the so-called “Cardiff Grounds” site .
EDF has given the Welsh Labour Government’s environmental arm – Natural Resources Wales – the absolute bare minimum of notice.
EDF is required by its licence to give at least 10 days’ notice of the commencement of the mud-dumping operations off Penarth – and EDF has given exactly the minimum amount of notice it’s required to give – just 10 days – and no more.
Both the Welsh Labour Government and Natural Resources Wales claim the mud is “safe” – but the evidence on which that claim is based is hotly disputed by the environmental group Friends of the Earth who last night held a protest meeting in Cardiff.
Thousands of local people signed a protest petition last year against the dumping scheme The Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee entertained the petition and asked for further – deeper – samples of the mud should be taken – but this wasn’t done .
Friends of the Earth (FoE) held a protest meeting on the issue in Cardiff last night at which Independent Assembly Member for South Wales Central (which includes Penarth) Neil McEvoy was keynote speaker .
Friends of the Earth say further sampling should have been conducted at the depth of sediments accumulated a few decades ago (when nuclear discharges were higher and poorly controlled ) but no such samples have been taken.
Meanwhile one of the Conservative AMs for South Wales Central – David Melding – who actually lives in Penarth, contends that the mud is “safe”.
David Melding – who is not a scientist but just a career politician who has been in the Assembly since it was established – claims there is “no scientific evidence that the mud is in any way nuclear” .
Mr Melding has already met one of the campaigners opposing the dumping off Penarth and has dismissed his complaints. He said “I did not think that the level of doubt that he had was reasonable.”
Melding says that anyone who has any concerns about mud dumping should write to all four of the Assembly Members for the South Wales Central Constituency ( which includes Penarth) – and to Vaughan Gething (Labour) who represents Cardiff South and Penarth.
[The four South Wales Central AMs are Gareth Bennett (UKIP) , David Melding (Conservative) , Andrew R T Davies (Conservative) and Neil McEvoy (Independent) ]
Friends of the Earth insist the mud is NOT as safe as Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Labour Government think it is.
The organisation says “few samples of the deeper mud show elevated radionuclides and metals”. FoE say Natural Resources Wales failed to require assessment of impacts on wildlife and humans, the Welsh Government failed to require EDF to take sufficient samples .
Friends of the Earth also accuse the environmental Minister Lesley Griffiths of acting “ as a rubber-stamp for Natural Resources Wales” rather than maintaining an independent stance, – as she should have done .
The FoE “Campaign against Hinkley-Mud Dumping” wants the Welsh Assembly to sponsor joint fact-finding research into the “hazards and uncertainties of nuclear materials in the Severn Estuary and wider environment, to include radioactive “hot” particles.”
The campaign also wants the Welsh Labour Government to suspend the dumping licence until it can be demonstrated to comply with international standards .
The mud dredged from the Hinkley Point nuclear power station complex will start being dumped off Penarth on Thursday August 16th 2018 and dumping can continue until March 4th 2019.