Nearly 60,000 people have signed two petitions calling for the suspension of a licence that will allow 300,000 tonnes of mud from Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power stations to be dumped off the Welsh coastline.
EDF Energy has a licence that allows it to dump up to 200,000 cubic metres of dredged material from the Hinkley A and B nuclear sites in an area of the Bristol Channel known as Cardiff Grounds, near Cardiff Bay.
The firm has said that it needs to carry out the dredging to build the new Hinkley Point C station and it adds that the dredging “poses no threat to human health or the environment.”
One of the petitions was started on September 26th by Tim Deere-Jones, who has been analysing test data about the material which could be dumped off the coast of Wales.
His petition on the Welsh National Assembly’s website has attracted 6,944 signatures.
It states “the environmental and human health (dose) risks from the proposed disposal have not been adequately researched and any conclusions based on the current incomplete data, are unreliable.”
It adds: “While sedimentary radioactive material is initially likely to disperse, studies prove that it later re-concentrates in coastal and estuarine mudflats and saltmarshes, and is also available for sea-to-land transfer during onshore winds and coastal flooding. We note the absence of research on the fate of such radioactivity in South Wales inshore waters.”
A second, separate petition on the website sumofus.org here has received 50,940 signatures, bringing the total to almost 58,000.
It says: “We can’t let big corporations get away with polluting our waters to cut costs – it’s up to us to fight back. There are 50 different harmful radionuclides, but testing only took place for three of these.”
“What’s more, only surface samples were taken – meaning that the actual radioactivity of the waste could be five times higher than claimed.”
The licence was granted in 2013 to dump the waste in the Bristol Channel as part of the huge multi-billion pound nuclear power station project. The area being dredged is close to the current Hinkley Point A nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea, which was decommissioned in 2000 after 35 years of use.
If it goes ahead, the waste would be dumped at Cardiff Grounds, an area in the Bristol Channel which runs parallel to the coast around 1.2 miles out at sea.
An EDF Energy spokesman said this week: “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.”