A group of 40 local “Nuclear Free” local authorities has now been told by marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones how the Welsh Labour Government manouvered to cut-short full consideration of the plans to dump thousands of tons of allegedly radioactive mud off Penarth.
The 40 Nuclear Free Local Authorities in the UK (the NFLA) – have welcomed the weekend decision by French energy company EDF to postpone until September the dumping off Penarth of sediment dredged offshore from the Hinkley Point nuclear power complex.
The dumping of 320,000 tonnes of allegedly radioactive mud was due to be started at the Cardiff Grounds, a mile off shore from Penarth, tomorrow – Thursday August 16th 2018. EDF had given the Welsh Government regulator, Natural Resources Wales, only the absolute minimum amount of advance notice required by their licence – just 1o days.
Then on Friday August 10th there was an unexplained about-turn from EDF – who then told Natural Resources Wales the mud dumping would take place some time in “September” – but didn’t give a precise date .
The NFLA say that independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones – who was behind the earlier petition against the mud dumping scheme.
Deere-Jones has now set out why he thinks the Welsh Labour Government “cut short” full consideration of the public petition he initiated . He says :-
“The Senedd Petition Committee hearings of evidence, in response to the public petition to postpone the dump and initiate a full Welsh Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposal, was cut short by the Welsh Government, because EDF needed to know what the final decision would be quickly as there were time pressures in completing the dredge and to dump the material this summer.”
“The Assembly Petitions Committee was forced to cut short its deliberations and encouraged to produce a report without sufficient time to deliberate on the evidence and generate substantive conclusions and recommendations on the way forward.”
“Thus, when the issue was debated in the Senedd no conclusions or recommendations were put forward to be voted on by AMs. The whole exercise was also nullified by the decision to abruptly call an end to Senedd Petition Committee deliberations.”
Tim Deere-Jones says “No action to commence the dredging had been announced until last week, approximately 3 months after the Senedd debate and around 4 months after the order to terminate the Petition Committee proceedings had been given.”
“The latest decision to postpone the dredge and dump until sometime in September further confirms that the termination of the Petition Committee proceedings was not necessary.”
Deere-Jones says the original decision to terminate the Petition Committee proceedings in the Welsh Assembly was “founded on a desire to bring a swift end to the debate about the re-licencing of EDF’s dump and to ensure that the Petitions Committee had no opportunity to draw up substantive conclusions or recommendations that could be voted on by AMs.”
Meanwhile the 40 Nuclear Free Local Authorities are calling again on the Welsh Labour Government and Natural Resources Wales to “reconsider the approvals previously given and fully take on board the high level of public unease there is in dumping such large amounts of sediment off the Welsh coast.” .
They say that ” A greater level of scientific testing of the material that is planned for dumping should be thoroughly made to consider its radioactive and other material content to ensure that it can be demonstrated to be fully ‘safe’ and not a long-term marine environmental hazard. ”
Tim Deere-Jones says of the Welsh Labour Government “This is a government which has extolled the virtues of open government and transparency and yet, on the issue of radioactive mud dumping, it seems to me that it has behaved in the opposite manner. The dumping of such material off the coast of Wales needs to primarily consider public safety and cleanliness of the marine and land environment, rather than to the direct benefit of the nuclear industry.”
Tim Deere-Jones is to address a Welsh Forum seminar taking place at Cardiff County Hall on the September 28th 2018.