WANA member the Low Level Radiation Campaign has published a new report on dumping radioactively contaminated mud near Cardiff. The report was presented last month to Natural Resources Wales with documentary evidence that health risks have been underestimated.
NRW, the Welsh equivalent of the Environment Agency in England, has awarded Marine Licence 12/45/ML to NNB Genco of Barnwood, Gloucester, a subsidiary of Electricité de France. It permits dredging and dumping 300,000 tonnes of sediment from Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset to facilitate the construction of Hinkley Point “C”. The intended dump site is Cardiff Grounds, a permanently submerged sandbank chosen because the high tidal velocity there would ensure rapid dispersion to the whole of the Severn Estuary.
Resistance to the proposal has concentrated on the inadequacy of samples taken from the mud and the inappropriate testing methods used by the Westminster government agency CEFAS, which advised NRW. Petitions have attracted more than 150,000 signatures.
In a plenary debate in the Welsh Assembly on 23rd May the majority of speakers called for a precautionary approach, but Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said:
“There is no scientific basis for any further testing or assessments to be done, so I think if they did that, that would set out a very dangerous precedent.”
The new report’s author, LLRC Secretary Richard Bramhall, said Ms. Griffiths had been duped. “Theoretical risks from Uranium and Plutonium particulates had been underestimated since 1943, for obvious geopolitical reasons. The key scientific issue is simple: if these particulates are in lungs or lymph nodes or your gonads, the radiation only travels a millionth of an inch. The official “average dose” concept dilutes all that energy into the whole body. On that logic they would claim it’s ok to stub out their cigars on a baby’s face.”
New evidence of genetic effects from Atomic weapons-test fallout and Chernobyl shows risks far greater than predicted by the old simplistic theory. A recent reanalysis of historical leukaemia data showed the worst rates were in children living near high voltage power lines where particulates are known to concentrate. This indicates that particulates carry high risks.”
United Nations and official UK data show that Uranium and Plutonium particles must be present in the mud. CEFAS has failed to use a test that would detect them.
“Official UK agencies have acknowledged that as particulates become fragmented on beaches they are more easily inhaled. More inhalation means greater risks. Fragmentation will also increase the dose from any given mass of Uranium or Plutonium because larger particles self-absorb some of their own radiation but, as particles break up, more and more radiation escapes. Of course we don’t know the particle size because CEFAS didn’t look.”
The second part of the report deals with official responses to the evidence after it was submitted to the Westminster government in November 2016. The English Environment Agency and Radioactive Waste Management have refused to discuss radiation risk, deferring to Public Health England and the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE)
LLRC’s report reproduces official responses from PHE, COMARE, and BEIS (Westminster’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) together with replies dissecting their lack of scientific reasoning. Bramhall reminded NRW that they depend on the English Environment Agency for radiological expertise: “In refusing to discuss radiation the Environment Agency has left NRW very much on their own. I told them they are looking at the turning point of a classic scientific revolution.”
He has also alerted Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, that the dump is imminent. He asked her to persuade NRW to withdraw or suspend the licence until new samples have been taken from the full depth of the sediment and tested with protocols that EdF’s critics agree with and can scrutinise.
Full reports http://www.llrc.org/ with action points
Contact 07887 942043 (Richard Bramhall)