The French energy company EDF has “paused” the programme of mud-dumping off Penarth – but will be returning to dump yet more ‘nuclear mud’ off Penarth in the near future.
The temporary pause comes less than half-way through the ‘nuclear mud’ dumping schedule.
The Welsh Labour Government gave the French state electricity company EDF [Électricité de France S.A] a licence to dump – off Penarth – a total of 320,000 tons of mud dredged from the sea bed off the Hinkley Point nuclear power complex in Somerset.
- So far EDF has dumped 110,000 tons of mud at the Cardiff Grounds off Penarth. [Cardiff Grounds is a triangular area of the sea bed off Penarth where normally only dredging spoil from the approach channels to Cardiff and Newport Docks is deposited]
- That leaves 210,000 tons of mud which could still be dumped off Penarth within the six months window provided by the original licence.
- However EDF says the next consignments of mud to be dumped in the Cardiff Grounds “Triangle” will be from much deeper down in the sea bed adjacent to the two ageing Hinkley Point A and B nuclear plants where vertical shafts are to be sunk for the cooling water system for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
- EDF seems to suggest it will need to apply for an additional dumping licence from the Welsh Labour Government for this phase of the operation
- Campaigners say that neither the 110,000 tons of mud already dumped off Penarth – nor the new “deeper” mud – still to be dumped – has been subjected to the full range of sampling and tests for the presence of possible radioactive substances.
Opponents of the dumping say a greater range of testing should have been carried out before operations began to ensure there was no radioactive risk – the key issue which prompted heated exchanges in a Welsh Assembly debate on October 10th . [ See http://tinyurl.com/yb2wkvk7 ]
However – whether radioactive or not – it appears that concentrations of mud are now being carried by the powerful Bristol Channel tides and are being washed ashore in unexpected places – like the “Blue Flag” beach on Barry Island.
This week a PDN commentator in Barry called “Fed Up” reported :- “ I walked on Barry Island beach today more mud than ever. Also all the work done to make the sea clear it was thick brown. This wasn’t like it in the Spring. “
Her observation is supported by Vale of Glamorgan Councillor Kevin Mahoney who said “Walking Barry Island Beach yesterday [ October 9] it was covered in thousands of mud splats deposited by the tide. Whether there is a natural explanation for this I’ve no idea, but as I walk the beach virtually every day I’ve never noticed such a concentration of mud on the golden sands there before and naturally wonder if this is linked to the dumping of the Hinckly point mud. Putting to one side any radiation fears if there is a link to the mud deposits then what on earth are we / the incompetents in the Assembly, allowing to happen to our areas enjoyed by residents and tourists alike?”.
EDF however, is quoted as saying “This mud is no different to mud found anywhere else up and down the coast. It has been thoroughly tested by a UK Government agency whose experts confirmed it poses no threat to human health or the environment. The sediment is not classed as radioactive under UK law.” EDF also claims to be “providing work for 25 Welsh companies and 1,000 Welsh workers”.
Meanwhile, with the protests ignored and the current phase of the operation completed, the two most hated ships in Wales – the Belgian motor hopper “Sloeber” were supposed to be returning to Belgium this morning – but in fact Sloeber is still in Barry Docks and her identical sister vessel “Pagadder” remains at anchor off Hinkley Point
The two ships leave behind them a stretch of Welsh waters which – thanks to them – are now muddier than ever – and a political time-bomb which may still put paid to a Welsh Labour Government that, arguably, has chosen to ignore the people of Wales just one time too many.
UPDATE SUNDAY OCTOBER 14TH : Both Sloeber and Pagadder have now left South Wales and are heading for Antwerp.