Dump­ing of ‘nu­clear mud’ off coast ends

Western Mail - - NEWS - DAVID WIL­LIAMSON Po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor david.wil­liamson@waleson­line.co.uk

THE first phase of a highly con­tro­ver­sial dredg­ing pro­ject which has seen mud moved from near the Hink­ley Point nu­clear sites to a lo­ca­tion off the Cardiff coast­line has been com­pleted.

Op­po­nents of the dredg­ing say a greater range of test­ing should have been car­ried out to en­sure there was no ra­dioac­tive risk and there were heated ex­changes in a Senedd de­bate this week.

But en­ergy giant EDF, which is re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the new Hink­ley Point C nu­clear sta­tion, has an­nounced that “con­trac­tors have now com­pleted the li­censed work to dredge and de­posit mud in the Sev­ern Es­tu­ary”.

Fur­ther dredg­ing at a later date is ex­pected so that six ver­ti­cal shafts for the power sta­tion’s cool­ing wa­ter sys­tem can be con­structed.

EDF says that just un­der 110,000 tonnes of mud and sed­i­ment was dredged and de­posited at the Cardiff Grounds dis­posal site. It had been per­mit­ted to move nearly 305,000 tonnes.

Les­ley Grif­fiths, Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for En­ergy, Plan­ning and Ru­ral Af­fairs, this week con­demned the “scare­mon­ger­ing and lies be­ing cir­cu­lated as part of the cam­paign against this marine li­cence which has re­sulted in un­nec­es­sary pub­lic con­cern for the peo­ple of Wales”.

How­ever, pro­pos­als for fur­ther dredg­ing would be likely to trig­ger re­newed op­po­si­tion.

An EDF En­ergy spokesman said: “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 did ev­ery­thing that it was re­quested to do when it ap­plied for the li­cence and has pub­lished in­for­ma­tion so peo­ple can see the facts for them­selves. We have also given ev­i­dence on dredg­ing at the Welsh As­sem­bly.

“Hink­ley Point C makes an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the Welsh econ­omy – pro­vid­ing work for 25 Welsh com­pa­nies and 1,000 Welsh work­ers. As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, fur­ther dredg­ing will be re­quired ahead of drilling the ver­ti­cal shafts for the cool­ing wa­ter sys­tem for the new power sta­tion.

“We will work closely with the ap­pro­pri­ate ex­perts to pre­pare our li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion and will again com­ply with all re­quire­ments.

“We also fully sup­port all ef­forts to in­form and ex­plain the dredg­ing work to the pub­lic.”

> Con­struc­tion con­tin­ues apace at Hink­ley Point C

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