A Penarth councillor – Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward) is demanding that the Town Council debates the controversial dumping of mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex into the sea off Penarth .
In last night’s meeting of Penarth Town Council’s “Events, Venues and Open Spaces Committee” Cllr Thomas unexpectedly gave notice that she would be moving a motion at the next full council meeting demanding reassurances about the safety of the mud from Natural Resources Wales and demanding monitoring of sea-water quality at Penarth. [Natural Resources Wales is the Welsh Labour Government’s largely ineffective environmental “watchdog” body that’s been called a “tame and toothless poodle”.]
In taking this action Cllr Thomas is doing something which no other councillors, AMs or (come to that) politicians of any other party have so far dared to do.
She is taking on the entrenched Welsh Labour Government who authorised the controversial mud dumping programme in the first place and then deliberately stifled debate on the issue in its own Petitions Committee.
Cllr Thomas told members of Penarth Town Council last night that she would like to “mirror public concern over the dredged mud being disposed of just outside of Penarth beach.”
She said “I would like to bring a motion to council to ask for re-assurances from the NRW [Natural Resources Wales] that the material is free of radioactive substances and ask if they will be monitoring the water quality on the beach. ” .
Cllr Thomas’s gutsy stance on behalf of her constituents comes in marked contrast to the failure of Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty to represent the concerns of local people on the issue.
Similarly, the wanna-be leader of the Labour Party in Wales, Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth) has also remained silent on the mud dumping controversy – even though he is Minister of Health .
The Conservative run Vale of Glamorgan Council has already protested about the mud dumping but – until now – the Labour controlled Penarth Town Council has steered clear of the issue.
Undoubtedly leading the charge on the issue is Neil McEvoy Independent AM for South Wales Central (which includes Penarth). He rallied demonstrators outside the National Assembly on August Bank Holiday and last Sunday even went aboard the Belgian dredger Sloeber in Barry Docks and talked to the crew during their evening meal in French – until they asked him to leave.
He’s also applying pressure to the Belgian seafarers’ union and wants local boatowners to band together to blockade the mud vessels.
Last night saw the MV Pagadder start mud dumping operations. She is the second of two Belgian motor hoppers contracted to bring 320,000 tonnes of mud from the Hinkley Point nuclear complex in Somerset and dump it in Welsh waters on the Cardiff Grounds Spoil Disposal site – just a mile offshore from Penarth.
Last night Pagadder worked in strong winds and heavy rain to bring her first cargo of Hinkley Point mud to the Cardiff Grounds dredge disposal site off Penarth. Although visibility was poor Pagadder appeared to be working without navigation or deck-lights . [Her partner vessel MV Sloeber is fully illuminated when carrying out her dumping operations.]
It was also noticeable that MV Pagadder was much lower in the water than sister ship MV Sloeber – indicating that she may have been carrying a greater cargo of mud than her identical sister ship. The freeboard of Pagadder rose considerably when she had released her complete load of mud into the sea off Penarth.
On Monday next week the hearing of an application for a legal injunction to halt the dumping is due to resume in court at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre.
The hearing was adjourned on Monday this week because the French energy company EDF – which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – had not completed its preparations for the case.