The environmental campaigners Barry Friends of the Earth say they’ve discovered the real reason why the French energy company EDF (Electricite de France) prematurely called a halt to its 6-month programme of dumping 320,000 tons of ‘nuclear mud’ in the sea off Penarth .
On Friday October 12 ( as reported by PDN) EDF announced, to most people’s surprise, that its contractors had “completed the licensed work to dredge and deposit mud in the Severn Estuary” despite having dredged and dumped only 110,000 tonnes of the 320,000 tons of mud they had been originally licensed to shift.
Friends of the Earth say the real reason EDF stopped short of their target and curtailed the schedule of dumping off Penarth was that the Belgian mud-dumping vessels Sloeber and Pagadder found the sticky clay was adhering to the insides of the holds of the hopper vessels – and not dropping easily out into the sea when the ships opened themselves up below the waterline.
It’s being alleged by Friends of the Earth that Natural Resources Wales had “bent the rules” in giving EDF permission to excavate and dump “base clays” as well as straightforward mud – and that the clays comprised 40% of the material to be moved .
It was also found that the giant back-hoe dredger called “Peter the Great” wasn’t so great at the job of scraping-up clay.
The Belgian mud hoppers and the dredger were said to be costing EDF £118,000 a day to operate, but were allegedly struggling to carry out the assignment they’d been given .
Friends of the Earth say there is now an opportunity for campaigners to re-start legal action to suspend the dumping license issued by the Welsh Labour Government – on the grounds that the obligatory Environmental Impact Assessment was not issued for the Cardiff Grounds dumping site .