Even more radioactivity is to be added to the Severn Estuary around Cardiff, if plans to dump 300,000 tonnes of mud dredged from the Hinkley Point nuclear power complex go ahead and are dumped at a site called Cardiff Grounds, one mile from the city.
Welsh ministers granted permission in 2013 for the French energy giant EDF to dredge and dump this material at Cardiff Grounds, a sandbank in the Bristol Channel as part of their plans to build the new £19.6bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. What adds insult to injury is that the Welsh Government has agreed to take nuclear waste so a French Company can build a nuclear plant in England that is not needed, it is a potentially serious health hazard and will cost the earth.
Man-made radioactive discharges into the Severn Estuary have been ongoing since 1967 when Hinkley Point A and then B started operations, and have also included discharges from other nuclear installations conveniently located along the Severn Estuary, i.e. Berkeley and Oldbury nuclear plants. EDF describes the mud as having a small amount of artificial radioactivity, which they say will have originated from legacy discharges from hospitals, medical isotope manufacturing facilities (including those formerly based in Cardiff) and lastly, unspecified nuclear facilities. However, the sediments to be dredged are located close to the existing long-term discharge pipes of the original plants at Hinkley Point and will have accumulated some of the leaked and accidental discharges from Hinkley A & B, as well as the routine liquid discharges of radioactive elements, as detailed in RIFE reports elsewhere on the EDF website
EDF have said that dredging will take 3-6 months and will begin in summer 2018. They have defended their actions by saying they are one of many companies (over many decades) dredging and depositing sediment in the Bristol Channel and that their mud is no different to that already at Cardiff Grounds. They claim that their tests, carried out by CEFAS in May 2017, show that the sediment “is not classed as radioactive under UK law and poses no threat to human health or the environment”
This is an infinitesimally small level of exposure to radiation, far below the threshold requiring a more detailed assessment or even close to approaching a radiation dose that could impact human health or the environment.
However, WANA has supported its own research. Tim Deere-Jones, an independent marine pollution researcher, has raised a number of concerns.
· Tests by CEFAS of the mud that could be dumped at Cardiff Grounds were flawed because of the 50 different radionuclides likely to be present, CEFAS only recorded the presence of 3 radionuclides.
· EDF has not accounted for the effect of dredging activity which will disturb and re-mobilise sediments.
· Sediments dumped in Cardiff Grounds are likely to be re-distributed by currents into mudflats and tidal estuaries and there may be significant sea to land transfer of radioactive particles via sea spray.
Additional work by Dr Chris Busby for WANA has confirmed that the CEFAS findings are flawed, CEFAS have not used analytical techniques that would reveal whether particles or Uranium and Plutonium are in the sediment. Official reports since the 1980s consistently state that the Bristol Channel contains radioactivity from Sellafield. It is highly probable that particulates are present. The precautionary principle dictates that CEFAS should have looked for such particles using alpha spectrometry but they did not. Data from the gamma spectrometry they did use suggests the presence of Plutonium and Uranium but it was deleted. See references below.