Welsh residents set to protest today against Hinckley Mud being 'dumped' in Wales

Welsh protesters are set to gather today outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay at 12.00pm to protest against the controversial decision to allow dumping of radioactive mud from Hinckley Point Power Station into the Estuary, just one and a half miles from Cardiff Bay.

While the new EDF power station is currently being built, other stations at the site were operational since 1965.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) claim much of the reporting has been inaccurate and there is no risk to public health from the waste, saying:

“We would not have granted a licence if we weren’t satisfied that there was no risk to the public or the environment.  Independent testing by radiological experts at Cefas have shown that the mud contains only very small amounts of radioactivity, most of which is naturally occurring and not from the nuclear industry.  It is also below safe limits.”

However, Assembly Minister Neil McAvoy is one of many protesters who believe that NRW have not tested the safety of the waste thoroughly enough and says scientists have shared their concerns with him.  In a video statement he made at Cardiff Bay, McAvoy said:

“The Welsh Government has given the go-ahead for 300,000 tonnes of mud to be dug up outside Hinckley Nuclear Power Station and to be dumped a mile and a half that way.  So that mud, those particles are going to be blown eight and a half miles inland.  My major concern is that only 5 samples below 5cm were tested, back in 2009.  Scientists are telling me the testing has not been thorough enough to establish that this mud is safe.  I have written a letter and want urgent answers from Natural Resources Wales, from the Ministers, from the Cabinet Secretary, from the Commissioner for the well-being of future generations.  These are all the people in Wales whose job it is to supposedly look after our environment.”  

Marine pollution and radioactivity expert Tim Deere-Jones says the waste has not been sufficiently tested for toxic elements, claiming that while there are 50 different harmful radionuclides, testing had only taken place for three of these, and he said he believed only surface samples were taken — meaning that the actual radioactivity of the waste could be five times higher than claimed.  Deere-Jones said:

“Rather than being relatively stable at the Hinkley site it is being churned up and brought over here to be dumped”, said Deere-Jones. “Radioactive and non-radioactive pollutants will inevitably enter inshore waters and coastal environments.”

When asked why Hinckley’s mud could not simply remain where it was, NRW said:

“Sediment dredging operations are very common around our coast, and the material needs to be disposed of at designated disposal sites.  This means we can ensure the sediments are released at a suitable site and will not harm sensitive habitats or wildlife.  By using a designated disposal site, we can make sure sediment does not build up in one place, creating a hazard to shipping, for example.”

EDF, the operators of the new Hinckley Point site told Greenpeace in a statement::

“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.”

Protesters are far from convinced that the waste is safe and object strongly to it being relocated to Wales – they are gathering at 12.00 to voice their concerns in public.

Keith Burgess drove all the way from West Wales to attend today’s protest.  Keith said:

“I want my children and my children’s children to be able to swim in the sea play on the beach and walk on the coast path and I genuinely believe they may not be able to.  Wales has had a series of poor environmental decisions already, including test drilling for fracking and the incinerator project in the Vale, this mud is a ridiculous decision that we simply should not tolerate.  I wanted to join today’s protest to make my voice heard – and our protests will continue, because another environmental disaster should not remain unchallenged.”  

We have approached senior Welsh Ministers for a statement and will update the article should we receive their responses.