Mud from nu­clear site set to be dumped off Welsh coast

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - RUTH MOS­AL­SKI ruth.mos­al­ski@waleson­line.co.uk

HUN­DREDS of thou­sands of tonnes of mud from the site of a dis­used nu­clear power sta­tion is to be dumped off Cardiff’s coast when the UK’s new­est nu­clear power sta­tion is built.

EDF En­ergy, which is build­ing the Hink­ley Point C re­ac­tor in north Som­er­set, has a marine li­cence to dump up to 200,000 cu­bic me­tres of dredged ma­te­rial close to Cardiff Bay.

One ex­pert has raised con­cerns about the pro­posed dump­ing, say­ing he fears that the mud may have a higher level of ra­dioac­tiv­ity than is cur­rently be­lieved.

The £19.6bn nu­clear power sta­tion was ap­proved by the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment last Septem­ber and as part of the construction, offshore sites in Bridg­wa­ter Bay will be dredged and sed­i­ment re­moved. Per­mis­sion for up to 300,000 tonnes of sed­i­ment to then be dumped on an area known as Cardiff Grounds was given in 2013.

Ex­pert Tim Deere-Jones has been analysing data about the tests con­ducted on mud and waste which could be dumped off the coast of Wales. He says he has three con­cerns about the waste.

Mr Deere-Jones says there are 50 dif­fer­ent ra­dionu­clides and test­ing has only taken place on three of those.

Sec­ondly, he says he be­lieves only sur­face sam­ples have been taken. He says that while sam­ples of from be­tween 0 and 5cm have been taken, re­search from other sites has shown that if sam­ples are taken from five times deeper, there can be a five times higher col­lec­tion of ra­dioac­tiv­ity.

Thirdly, he says tides in Wales mean that waste could be trans­ferred from the sea into land, that can be through coastal flood­ing or even sea spray head­ing up to 10 miles in­land. How­ever, it is un­der­stood dredg­ing has not yet be­gun and no date set.

Mr Deere-Jones has pe­ti­tioned the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to post­pone the li­cence to al­low ex­tra time to put to­gether a fully-ref­er­enced sci­en­tific pa­per about his con­cerns.

As it stands, with an ac­tive li­cence, a dredg­ing com­pany could ap­ply to be­gin work at any time, al­low­ing Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales up to 14 days’ no­tice.

It would be able to im­pose re­quire­ments for ex­tra tests on the ap­pli­cant. But, the au­thor­i­ties say all tests were com­pleted be­fore the li­cence was is­sued.

In the Senedd last week En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Les­ley Griffiths said the li­cence had been granted “a long time ago”.

She added: “All marine ap­pli­ca­tions are con­sid­ered in line with le­gal re­quire­ments. I un­der­stand a valid marine li­cence is in place and there are con­di­tions that need to be com­plied with by the li­cence holder be­fore any dis­posal can take place.”

An EDF En­ergy spokesman said: “We will be dredg­ing sed­i­ment from the seabed off the Hink­ley Point C site ahead of drilling six ver­ti­cal shafts for the cool­ing wa­ter sys­tem for the new nu­clear power sta­tion. We con­sulted a num­ber of stake­hold­ers, some for more than 12 months, be­fore mak­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment Marine Con­sents Unit for a Marine Li­cence to de­posit this ma­te­rial at the Cardiff Grounds li­censed dis­posal site.

“We have un­der­taken a num­ber of as­sess­ments as part of this ap­pli­ca­tion which con­cluded the ac­tiv­i­ties pose no threat to hu­man health or the en­vi­ron­ment. All ac­tiv­i­ties on our sites are strictly con­trolled and reg­u­lated by a num­ber of statu­tory bod­ies to en­sure the en­vi­ron­ment and public are pro­tected.”

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