March 29, 2011
Point uranium contamination fears are 'unfounded'
Environment Agency has said this week that claims that soil around
Hinkley Point nuclear power station, near Burnham-On-Sea, is contaminated
with enriched uranium are "unfounded".
The claim was made by environmental consultancy group Green Audit
at a public meeting earlier this year.
The agency said on Tuesday (March 29th) it has carried out its
own investigation and has found no enriched uranium is present.
Green Audit says its review of the results suggests the agency's
investigation is "flawed".
A, which closed in 2000 and is undergoing decommissioning, used
natural uranium. But advanced gas-cooled reactors, such as Hinkley
B, use enriched uranium, which is more radioactive.
Green Audit said EDF's own data tables suggested the proposed
new site contained about 10 tonnes of enriched uranium from spent
The Environment Agency, which regulates discharges from nuclear
plants, said it undertook soil sampling "in view of public
concerns that the allegations may have caused".
Samples were taken on the proposed site and at three nearby farms
and were analysed using mass spectrometry, a method of measuring
"The results of our sampling show that no enriched uranium
is present," said The Environment Agency's David Bennettn
in a statement on Tuesday.
"Uranium is present naturally in small quantities in all
rocks and soils. The levels of uranium found in the soil samples
taken both on and off the site are low, and at naturally occurring
However, Professor Chris Busby, from Green Audit, told the BBC
it was "unacceptable" that the agency had taken samples
without their representatives or the local Stop Hinkley campaign
group being present as observers.
"The issue is essentially one of trust," he said, adding
that the results "cannot therefore be used to reassure anyone".
He added that Green Audit had carried out its own gamma survey
in February and discovered that radiation was significantly higher
than values that had previously been reported for the site.