Hinkley Point C Mud Dumping Debate at the Senedd

Posted: 13th October 2020

October 21st 2020
EdF are currently building Hinkley Point C, and as part of the construction they want to dredge mud from Bridgewater Bay to construct the cooling system for the new reactors. Radioactive particles from the outflow pipes of previous nuclear reactors – Hinkley Point A operated from 1965-2000 and Hinkley Point B from 1976 to the present – have been flushed out into Bridgewater Bay for the last 55 years. There were plutonium leaks from Hinkley Point A in the 1970s which may also have contaminated the mud they want to dump in Cardiff Bay.  
In 2018 the Geiger Bay coalition established, through Court action, that there was no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the disposal of the dredged sediment and its effect on Cardiff Grounds and the Welsh environment. Despite a debate in the Senedd, prompted by a large petition, the Welsh Government allowed EdF to dump 82,000 cubic metres of sediment containing radioactive particles at the Cardiff Grounds Dispersal Site (2.5 miles from Cardiff).
Current Situation 
EdF now want to dump a further 600,000 cubic metres of sediment from the Hinkley Point C dredgings at the Cardiff Grounds site, despite the fact that the Severn Estuary is a Special Area of Conservation and a Marine Protected Area. There are several European Protected Species in the Severn Estuary (Twaite shad, Allis shad, river lamprey, sea lamprey); the Severn Estuary is internationally important for the European Eel, a UK Priority Species listed as Critically Endangered on the global IUCN Red List.
To conduct any dumping, EdF need a new marine license.
Despite not having an EIA for this, EdF initially asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to give them permission to apply for a marine license without conducting an EIA. As a result of Geiger Bay’s 10,000+ signatory petition, which has led to a full debate in the Senedd being scheduled on this issue for 21st October, EdF have conceded to the pressure and agreed to conduct an EIA before they apply for a marine licence.
The Senedd Debate
Getting the EIA is only any good if it addresses all the issues, of course ! That’s why we’re asking you to contact your Senedd Members to ask them to raise the following points in the debate (all of which were raised in the petition):

  • The scope of the EIA should allow all the issues to be properly addressed,
  • The EIA should examine what happened to the sediment dumped at the Cardiff Grounds Dispersal site in 2018;
  • The EIA should recommend that measurements of radiation levels along the south Wales coast are taken before any further dumping, in order to provide baseline data against which any increases in radiation as a result of further dumping could be determined;
  • The EIA should recommend that radioactivity measurements must include testing to detect alpha emitters, not just gamma emitters, because alpha emitters are the most dangerous when inhaled into the human body;
  • The EIA should commission appropriate modelling is needed of potential impacts on the human population, to beach users, seafood eaters (given the danger of bioconcentration of radioactive particles in the food chain), and of inhaling micro-spray and mud particles contaminated by radioactive particles;
  • The EIA needs to address our commitments under OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, signed by the UK, which requires us to return nuclides in the sea to historical levels (pre-nuclear power) by the 2020s and artificial nuclides to near zero – not to increase the number of radioactive particles in the sea. OSPAR states that the alternative of managing nuclide-contaminated wastes on land is normally preferred, so land storage of dredged sediment should be assessed by the EIA;
  • The EIA, in accordance with the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, should ensure that all relevant evidence in respect of uncertainties need to be considered; for example, the evidence from the Low Level Radiation Campaign which shows that the health risks of inhaling Plutonium and Uranium particles are far greater than previously assumed.

NRW should make public all EDF documents submitted for the scoping decision and consult openly with all interested parties.
We believe that Senedd Members must remind the Welsh Government that they have to take uncertainties, and the precautionary principle, into consideration when assessing environmental and potential health impacts.
Who are Geiger Bay ?
We are a non-partisan Coalition comprising organisations, individuals and scientists formed in 2018, to galvanise public and political opinion against the dumping of contaminated mud from Hinkley nuclear power station in Cardiff Bay.

Yours in Peace
Michael Freeman
Treasurer and Membership Secretary
CND Cymru


Find out more – call Caroline on 01722 321865 or email us.