Legal challenge to stop nuclear waste dumping near Cardiff

Don’t drink the tap water if you live anywhere near Somerset, Bath, Bristol or southern Wales – especially Newport and Cardiff.

That was the advice of net-based activist Tracy Kelly, in response to the announcement that 300,000 tonnes of nuclear waste is to be dredged from the seabed near Hinkley Point and dumped a mile off the Cardiff shoreline.

But a legal battle has been launched to stop this environmental disaster from being inflicted on the people of south Wales and the West Country.

Here’s the situation, courtesy of Ms Kelly: “Millions of cubic metres of radioactive sludge is being dumped in the Bristol Channel, contaminating inland waters, fisheries, oysters, seals, and will stay radioactive for the next – wait for it – 12,000 years!

“The sludge will create a whole new toxic sandbank which will be so big it’ll be picked-up on marine Radar and will be viewable by space satellites… George Osborne, the former chancellor who couldn’t answer a kid what six times seven was, made the cheap decision to just dump the toxic mud one mile offshore from Cardiff.

“The toxic sludge comes from the Hinkley A nuclear reactor. This is one of several dangerous old reactors in the west of England and western Scotland which have created no less than 19 million tonnes of toxic waste.

“About four million tonnes of that waste is dumped into the Irish Sea from outflow pipes near Windscale where there are high numbers of children with blood diseases and cancer.

“The French company building Hinkley C in North Somerset are the same people building a mega-reactor in Normandy which had to be stopped because the concrete dome cracked.

“Theresa May gave the French EDF company a ‘marine licence’ to dump radioactive waste in Cardiff Bay. Nice. Protestors in their thousands have written letters, staged demonstrations and also submitted petitions – however, BBC current affairs has refused to broadcast a single second of a single protestor’s views on national prime-time news – even though there have been concerned resident meetings happening since the year 2000.”

A barge made its first trip to dump radioactive mud off the coast near Cardiff yesterday evening (September 10).

That is the situation.

Here‘s what’s being done about it:

Opponents to a controversial scheme to dump mud from a nuclear plant off the coast of Cardiff have launched a last-minute legal challenge.

The Campaign Against Hinkley Mud Dumping submitted an application to the High Court in Cardiff on Monday seeking an interim injunction.

Campaigners have argued Natural Resources Wales (NRW) failed to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment and said core samples were insufficient under international rules and did not cover all significant radioactive substances from the Hinkley plant.

Here‘s some evidence in support of that statement:

Independent Assembly Member Neil McEvoy said… only 5 samples of mud had been taken from a level lower than 5 centimeters for analysis. The Welsh Assembly petitions committee had asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to require the French energy company  EDF (who are building the new nuclear power station) to carry out additional analysis, but this had been refused.

I imagine the petitions committee had made its request after receiving the petition publicised by This Site, here.

The Labour-run Welsh Government said NRW made its decision based on “expert advice”. It also concluded the material was within “safe limits” and posed no “radiological risk” to human health or the environment.

But it seems the tests on which this “expert advice” was given did not assess whether uranium, plutonium and other alpha-emitting elements were present in minute “particulate” form. As such, they can be more easily inhaled into the deep lung and the lymphatic system, and will emit more radiation.

The injunction is an interim measure – if the mud dump is to be stopped for good, protestors will have to fund a costly judicial review.

If you care about your environment, your health and that of your children enough to do something about it, you can add to the crowdfunding scheme that is financing the legal battle.

Please visit the website here to make your contribution.

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12 thoughts on “Legal challenge to stop nuclear waste dumping near Cardiff

  1. Neilth

    I know a little about this. First Mr McEvoy, he is the Plaid Cymru AM who has been suspended from his party for many reasons including alleged bullying of a Welsh Gov civil servant, his immoderate rhetoric and other reasons that are in the public domain. In my view he is a nasty self publicist as are some of his acolytes who have many of the similar traits. One of whom is allegedly also under investigation by Plaid for transphobic diatribes. They are the worst kind of populists using poor science and scaremongering to frighten people.

    Having said that there are concerns re this dumping. The Bristol Channel, A’s is well known, has the second highest tidal range in the world and the amount of movement and churn of the seabed is immense. The shorelines either side of the channel are often inundated by mud, both washed down from the various rivers that feed the channel and from disturbed mud from the seabed. This includes the Cardiff grounds area where the Hinkley mud is being dumped ( it started last Thursday).

    The amount to which the mud is contaminated is the main concern. NRW etc maintain that it is no more radioactive than the general environment in this part of the world. They say that test drilling prior to the start of dredging established that there is no significant level of radioactivity found to the depth to which they are dredging.

    It is likely that as the dumped mud is churned around the Channel that much of it will end up on Penarth Beach, the nearest costal Town Down Channel from Cardiff Grounds. I raised the question of Alpha emitting particles in this mud and was told directly and unequivocally that that there was no raised levels of this compared to the background levels. I must admit I am not reassured as when the mud dries out on the shore it will blow about and the potential to inhale the dust is worrying.

    There is, quite rightly, an ongoing debate and campaign on this matter demanding better and more detailed information on the findings and levels of all the particulate matter in the mud.
    However it would be a huge mistake to be unduly influenced by the self serving tactics of Mr McEvoy et al who have in my opinion an altogether different agenda.

  2. trev

    No surprise the Establishment mouthpiece BBC are ignoring this story but you would have thought it would at least get a mention on local tv News.

      1. Liam Walls

        Yeah, fair point, but the water picked up for precipitation is rarely from the sea next to the town – clouds tend to move FAR before they are loaded enough for rain. So it seems unlikely that the rain has detectable levels of radiation in the area where this radiactive waste is dropped.

        Radiation waste is a terrible thing for many other reasons. Just not drinking water.

  3. John Mason

    This is a non issue. The level of radioactivity in the Hinckley mud is only slightly above background levels and well within statutory limits. Whilst I am critical of the Hinkley development for various reasons, no one should worry about this.

    More information here:

    PS the terms ‘radioactive’ and ‘toxic’ are not interchangeable.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I know what it says. The assertion is that the tests were not thorough enough and the true level of radiation is not known – as you will have read in my article and those it references.

  4. Chris

    This article is inaccurate in several ways.

    The dumping won’t contaminate tap water. Water companies in the UK extract their water from rivers and bore holes, not from the sea or tidal estuaries. While radioactive dust may well be blown off the surface of the sea, most radioisotopes are fairly heavy and would be deposited either back in the sea or close to the shoreline. A much bigger risk is from people breathing it in and from it being spread further by it being picked up on vehicles, clothes, shoes or on people’s bodies.

    It won’t “create a sandbank which will be so big it’ll be picked-up on marine radar and will be viewable by space satellites”. Firstly it is mud being dumped, not sand. Marine radar only picks up things above the surface of the sea, not anything below it. Thirdly, the technology used in satellites can easily see things the size of a newspaper, so this isn’t a good comparison. Check the photos on Google Maps which were taken from space if you don’t believe me about this. The dumping certainly won’t be visible with the naked eye from space.

    “Theresa May gave the French EDF company a ‘marine licence’ to dump radioactive waste in Cardiff Bay.” No she didn’t. While much of the work on the application was done by the Environment Agency, the marine dumping licence was granted by the Welsh Government through Natural Resources Wales because the decision was made after responsibility for the environment was devolved.

    There are plenty of real reasons to oppose the appalling marine mud dumping decision made by the Welsh Government without making things up. Doing so weakens the case of those opposing the dumping.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Interesting points. What would you say is the reason people are suffering radiation-related ill-health in the other area mentioned, where radioactive mud has been dumped offshore?

Comments are closed.