Posted: 2nd September 2020
Please circulate your networks asking people to sign petition 200157 in the Welsh Senedd <https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/200157>.
Anyone anywhere can sign, and it is important that Senedd Members know the world’s eyes are on them.
The petition is about EDF’s threat to dredge almost a million tonnes of mud from the bed of the Severn estuary and dump it on a shallow
sandbank a few hundred metres from the Senedd building in Cardiff.
This is part of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project. The mud is known to be contaminated with radioactivity. They dumped 80,000
tonnes in 2018, causing substantial damage to the sea bed. They now want to dump ten times as much.
They need a new licence for this. The petition calls for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
The dump would bring no benefit or compensation to Wales, though the cost of treating the health effects would fall on the Welsh Health
Service. We don’t know why the Welsh Government is so willing to facilitate the dump, especially in view of the fact that Wales has
enough renewable resources to be self-sufficient in energy. EDF could dump the mud on land at the Hinkley Point site.
As far as human health is concerned, “sea-to-land transfer” is the biggest issue. It has been known for decades that radioactive
micro-particles small enough to be inhaled are resuspended by wave action and can be blown inland for miles. In 2006 the Dounreay
Particles Advisory Group advised that it was unwise to disturb sediment that contained such small particles. In Wales no baseline
survey was done before the 2018 dump nor since. But we have this photograph taken through a microscope.
The round and oval marks in the middle are pits in the surface of a plastic sheet burned by alpha rays from a radioactive particle 5 to 10
microns across. The plastic is CR39, which official bodies recommend for detecting radon gas in buildings, radon being another alpha
emitter. The particle was in a small random sample of the dust inside the air filter of a car that had been driven exclusively within a few
miles of Hinkley Point. The same slide showed other particles. The number of hits suggests this one is uranium but it could also contain other elements including plutonium.
Particles this small are easily inhaled and can travel to any part of the body.
In Wales, public consultation on the mud has been limited to the sampling and testing programmes. Natural Resources Wales, acting for
the Government, ruled many of the responses “out of scope”.
A few days ago EDF deployed a rig to take a small number of samples
from the bed of the estuary. The tests they plan to use on the samples
cannot detect small uranium or plutonium particles which UN data show were emitted in huge numbers by nuclear power stations along the
Severn (the data are here
RR.pdf>; see Table 34). If the Welsh Government were nevertheless to grant the licence they would contravene the Environment (Wales) Act
2016, which requires special care and the widest consultation in light of uncertainties. Campaigners have also invoked the Well-being of
Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
Wales is in a pivotal position with global implications. Westminster refuses to participate in discussions of the radiation risk model and
appears to have colluded with its advisors COMARE (Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment) to falsify the
records of what little discussion there has been. COMARE has failed to deliver on its own decisions to investigate radioactivity inside the
body. New evidence underlines decades of controversy over the health effects of inhalable radioactive particles.
A very recent judicial verdict in Japan
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13590901 demonstrates the weakness of arguments based on the old view of radiation risk. The Hiroshima
District Court recognised 84 people as hibakushas (A-bomb survivors eligible for medical support) because they were affected by internal
radiation from fallout particles, whereas they were previously denied support because they were so far from the bomb that they didn’t
receive the external neutrons and gamma rays that previously defined the hibakushas.
The Welsh Government needs to catch up and understand the significance of the Hiroshima verdict. The First Minister has established a new ”Expert Group <https://gov.wales/hinkley-point-c-stakeholder-reference-group>”
chaired by Jane Davidson but there is no sign that any of its members know about the problems with the old radiation risk model nor that
they understand why the planned tests cannot detect small alpha-emitting particles in the mud.
The scientific evidence is summarised here
very recent papers in the peer-reviewed literature.
In 2018 the Environment Minister for Wales rejected protests against the first dump, calling campaigners “liars and scaremongers”. We need
another debate in the Senedd to air the real arguments. 5000
signatures means a Senedd debate “will be considered”. At the date of writing we have 4000, and need to reach the target in 9 days.
[A note on the new Hiroshima hibakushas: The Japanese government has appealed against the court ruling
Why? Are they so callous that they’d deny medical help to a few old and sick people in their final years just to save money? They aren’t
even saving face, because the bomb was America’s doing (a war crime) and Japan was not to blame. No – the point is: if the bomb made people
ill at a distance it must have been caused by uranium particles, and nuclear power stations emit similar particles. The government is to
blame for allowing the nuclear industry to build over 50 power stations in Japan. That’s the liability they’re ducking