Guest post by Steve Andrews ‘The Bard of Ely’
You don’t have to be Welsh to see why having large quantities of radioactive mud dumped in coastal waters near Cardiff and Penarth is not a good idea. Yet this is exactly what is being done, despite the protests of campaigners, led by Neil McEvoy, Assembly Member for South Wales Central, and Cian Ciaran of the Super Furry Animals rock band.
The Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) earlier this year, granted a licence to EDF, a French energy supply company with British headquarters in London, for 320,000 tonnes of mud, dredged up from near the controversial Hinkley nuclear power stations in Somerset, to be moved and dumped in the “Cardiff Grounds.”
It is said that the mud has to be removed in order that further work needed in the construction of Hinkley Point C can proceed. However, insufficient testing of the mud has been carried out to determine how radioactive it may be.
How safe is safe?
Despite claims by the Welsh Government, NRW and EDF, that the mud is safe, the Senedd Petitions Committee concluded that inadequate sampling of deep layers had been made. Only five samples below 5cm had been taken and this was back in 2009. NRW have recently admitted that the mud is radioactive but still say that it is nothing to worry about.
McEvoy tweeted: “The Chair of Natural Resources Wales confirmed it was radioactive in a letter to me. Don’t worry, she said, it’s a safe level of radioactivity…”
If you’re like me, how safe is safe, you may well be wondering?
Ciaran had this to say: “I have one simple argument – Absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, therefore, the precautionary principle should dictate a re-think. A re-think by our politicians and policy makers to do the right thing by its people. The implications and consequences of this dredging could be far reaching, so is it too much to ask to know what we are dealing with?
This is yet another example of Welsh Labour`s incompetence, an irresponsible government, hell bent on leaving a legacy of absolute destruction. Today is testament to 20 years of failings. Their contempt, reinforced by the systematic neglect by successive governments in London, takes the Welsh people for granted and shows that devolution as it stands does not work for Wales.
I’m tired of the excuses and lack of accountability – we should all call for a better future. The nuclear establishment cannot be trusted.”
With the dumping grounds being only a mile away from Penarth, the area of coastal water where this is taking place is becoming known as “Geiger Bay.” On 11 September, Penarth Daily News, ran the headline “In The Dark, The First 2,000 Tons Of ‘Nuclear Mud’ Is Dumped Off Penarth.”
The Belgian dredger MV Sloeber is conducting the work at night, and according to a “Notice To Mariners,” issued by Associated British Ports South Wales, this is scheduled to continue for “6 weeks on a daily basis.” They have a lot of nuclear mud to get rid of!
It is obvious to me that the mud particles, and however much radiation they hold, are going to be spread far and wide further along the coast of South Wales down to West Wales and beyond. Radiation can also be expected to travel inland, through Cardiff and surrounding areas.
What effects this will have on people, wildlife and the environment at large, nobody knows. However, and worryingly, no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been done.
Richard Bramhall, Chairman of the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance (WANA), is calling on the Environment Minister Lesley Griffiths to halt the operation because of this, and said: “We believe that the decision to grant the Marine Licence is unlawful and have therefore taken steps to take legal action to stop the operation.
Lesley Griffiths has the power to intervene and we call on her as Environment Secretary to do so until a thorough assessment of the risks has been taken – anything else would be irresponsible.”
Legal action planned
The Campaign Against Hinkley Mud Dumping has not given up, though, and intends taking legal action to obtain an injunction to stop the work continuing. A crowdfunding appeal has been set up to help with the costs needed for this. Please support it, and let’s stop them dumping radioactive mud in Wales!