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The dumping of radioactive mud would break the law because the project has had no Environmental Impact Assessment carried out to ensure that the radioactive mud has been properly assessed as to the risk to the environment and people’s health ! Without such an assessment it would also fall foul of Section 4 of the Environment Wales Act 2016 which requires full consideration of all relevant evidence and gather evidence on uncertainties, and the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and the Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017. 

But the Welsh Government is supposed to protect us from harm by legislating that no decision should be taken by the NRW until they have carried out an independent EIA instead of just accepting what EdF (Electricité de France - the builders of Hinkley C) told them. The Welsh Government cannot let them off the hook by going ahead with the dumping when no EIA has been carried out. If the Welsh Government Minister responsible, Lesley Griffiths, does not call in the Marine Licence and halt the radioactive mud for it to be tested properly then she will have broken the law because she is ultimately responsible for the unlawful dumping. 

According to the law an EIA should happen because “If the proposed development is likely to have a significant effect on the environment then it should have EIA.” This is the law passed by a Welsh Labour Government which has passed such well-meaning but useless legislation as the “Wellbeing for Future Generations”. In such cases, the applicant for planning permission must provide the required information so the environmental effects of the development can be assessed. This information, in the form of an Environmental Statement, will then be considered in the determination of the planning application.

The NRW says that there was an EIA because they used the EIA done by EdF who are building Hinkley C. But CEFAS says a Habitats Regulations Assessment carried out for the Hinkley Point C development does not cover the disposal of material to Cardiff Grounds. So if the NRW give the go ahead to the radioactive dumping it will break the law. The EIA Regulations state that, where an application needs to have EIA, planning permission shall not be granted unless the person determining the application has first considered the environmental information.

The fundamental problem about the NRW’s decision to go ahead with the dumping is that the scientific argument about the inadequacy of the data is what EdF have told them and the NRW does not have any independent expertise about radiation to be able to make a sensible judgement. Until then the Marine Licence should be called in so that an independent EIA is carried out based on thorough testing of the radiation in the mud before it dumped near to Cardiff and Penarth.
Tim Richards, LLB.PGCE



Cardiff Radioactive Mud Fudge Exposed, Fragmentation Hazard Overlooked

WANA member the Low Level Radiation Campaign has published a new report on dumping radioactively contaminated mud near Cardiff. The report was presented last month to Natural Resources Wales with documentary evidence that health risks have been underestimated.

NRW, the Welsh equivalent of the Environment Agency in England, has awarded Marine Licence 12/45/ML to NNB Genco of Barnwood, Gloucester, a subsidiary of Electricité de France. It permits dredging and dumping 300,000 tonnes of sediment from Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset to facilitate the construction of Hinkley Point "C". The intended dump site is Cardiff Grounds, a permanently submerged sandbank chosen because the high tidal velocity there would ensure rapid dispersion to the whole of the Severn Estuary.

Resistance to the proposal has concentrated on the inadequacy of samples taken from the mud and the inappropriate testing methods used by the Westminster government agency CEFAS, which advised NRW. Petitions have attracted more than 150,000 signatures.

In a plenary debate in the Welsh Assembly on 23rd May the majority of speakers called for a precautionary approach, but Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said:


There is no scientific basis for any further testing or assessments to be done, so I think if they did that, that would set out a very dangerous precedent."

The new report's author, LLRC Secretary Richard Bramhall, said Ms. Griffiths had been duped. "Theoretical risks from Uranium and Plutonium particulates had been underestimated since 1943, for obvious geopolitical reasons. The key scientific issue is simple: if these particulates are in lungs or lymph nodes or your gonads, the radiation only travels a millionth of an inch. The official "average dose" concept dilutes all that energy into the whole body. On that logic they would claim it's ok to stub out their cigars on a baby's face."

New evidence of genetic effects from Atomic weapons-test fallout and Chernobyl shows risks far greater than predicted by the old simplistic theory. A recent reanalysis of historical leukaemia data showed the worst rates were in children living near high voltage power lines where particulates are known to concentrate. This indicates that particulates carry high risks.


United Nations and official UK data show that Uranium and Plutonium particles must be present in the mud. CEFAS has failed to use a test that would detect them.


Official UK agencies have acknowledged that as particulates become fragmented on beaches they are more easily inhaled. More inhalation means greater risks. Fragmentation will also increase the dose from any given mass of Uranium or Plutonium because larger particles self-absorb some of their own radiation but, as particles break up, more and more radiation escapes. Of course we don't know the particle size because CEFAS didn't look."

The second part of the report deals with official responses to the evidence after it was submitted to the Westminster government in November 2016. The English Environment Agency and Radioactive Waste Management have refused to discuss radiation risk, deferring to Public Health England and the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE)[1]

LLRC's report reproduces official responses from PHE, COMARE, and BEIS (Westminster's Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) together with replies dissecting their lack of scientific reasoning. Bramhall reminded NRW that they depend on the English Environment Agency for radiological expertise: "In refusing to discuss radiation the Environment Agency has left NRW very much on their own. I told them they are looking at the turning point of a classic scientific revolution."

He has also alerted Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, that the dump is imminent. He asked her to persuade NRW to withdraw or suspend the licence until new samples have been taken from the full depth of the sediment and tested with protocols that EdF's critics agree with and can scrutinise.


     Full reports with action points

          Contact        07887 942043 (Richard Bramhall)



Analysis of sediment – Do samples from the deeper levels breach permitted “de minimis” limit? Samples analysed for 2013 and 2017 reports were from the top 2cm of the surface of the mud deposits. These will be recent and highly mobile sediments derived from the whole of Bridgewater Bay. They will not be representative of the older and deeper sediments accumulated in past decades from higher nuclear discharges. The previous deep core-samples of 2009 showed significantly higher radioactivity in 3 out of 5 samples, implying that the bulk of excavated material could be of higher levels of radioactivity, which would take the mud closer to the de minimis limit. Exceeding this level would make disposal at sea illegal. EdF have refused the Petitions Committee’s request for more sampling at metre-depths, stating that no artificial radioactivity was observed below 2m. NRW have failed to demand from CEFAS an appropriate test to detect alpha-emitters, such as Uranium and Plutonium and instead relied on gamma spectrometry to test the mud samples. CEFAS then omitted to report indirect evidence of these same alpha-emitters in their reporting to NRW.


Deep Sea or Severn Estuary? The disposal site is in the Severn Estuary and not in the open sea. NRW appears to be permitting the mud dumping because the expected yearly received dose of radiation will not exceed that allowed for sea disposal under the terms of the London Convention, the law regulating the disposal of radioactive material at sea. However, the Cardiff Grounds dispersal site is situated within the Severn Estuary, rather than in open sea.


New assessments by CEFAS of the expected dose of radioactivity are based on only three available samples, meaning their anticipated level of 5.8 µSv/yr could be unrepresentative. The actual dose could exceed the 10 µSv/yr “de minimis” level, making the dump illegal anywhere at sea and even more potentially damaging in an estuarine environment.


The London Convention permits the dumping of artificial radioactive material at sea “where proper account has been taken of the marine environmental and other conditions” and meets “de minimis” criteria. International Atomic Energy Authority guidelines stipulate that disposal can include well-mixed coastal waters but states that disposal should take place a few kilometres off the coast, so that the actual shape of the coastline does not influence dispersal significantly. There is no approved protocol for estuarine disposal.


IAEA guidelines, updated in 2015, require that an assessment on the affects of the disposal on wildlife must be carried out, prior to permissions being granted. Therefore NRW should have produced a Habitat Regulations assessment, prior to granting EdF permissions to dump. Cardiff Grounds is within a Ramsar site, a protected area of international importance to wetland birds, and is also situated within a Special Area of Conservation.


Toxic metal and organic contamination of sediments.

EdF have disclosed to CEFAS that there are excessive levels of metal and organic compounds in the Hinkley mud, which amount to “a quite small breach” of CEFAS’s “Action Level 1”. NRW should have assessed and reported on this anticipated impact to wildlife, but failed to do so before granting EdF permission to dump.


In conclusion, NRW’s expected commitment to sound science and rigorous regulatory standards does not seem to have held sway when granting permission to move mud from Hinkley Point to Cardiff Grounds. They acknowledge that they do not have expertise in nuclear matters, but they were appointed by WAG to approve the removal and re-location of this mud, a legacy of reactors A and B, at Hinkley.

The people of Wales and its environment will not benefit from this mud and we expect our Assembly to exercise due rigour when deciding on its suitability, or not, for dispersal in Welsh waters. We demand that the decision to grant to EdF permission to dump is suspended until proper rigorous testing of deep samples is carried out. This proper testing should be carried out in a manner that will re-assure the public, who do not wish to accept increased radio-active contamination of the Welsh coastline and its tidal waters.


Even more radioactivity is to be added to the Severn Estuary around Cardiff, if plans to dump 300,000 tonnes of mud dredged from the Hinkley Point nuclear power complex go ahead and are dumped at a site called Cardiff Grounds, one mile from the city.


Welsh ministers granted permission in 2013 for the French energy giant EDF to dredge and dump this material at Cardiff Grounds, a sandbank in the Bristol Channel as part of their plans to build the new £19.6bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. What adds insult to injury is that the Welsh Government has agreed to take nuclear waste so a French Company can build a nuclear plant in England that is not needed, it is a potentially serious health hazard and will cost the earth.


Man-made radioactive discharges into the Severn Estuary have been ongoing since 1967 when Hinkley Point A and then B started operations, and have also included discharges from other nuclear installations conveniently located along the Severn Estuary, i.e. Berkeley and Oldbury nuclear plants. EDF describes the mud as having a small amount of artificial radioactivity, which they say will have originated from legacy discharges from hospitals, medical isotope manufacturing facilities (including those formerly based in Cardiff) and lastly, unspecified nuclear facilities. However, the sediments to be dredged are located close to the existing long-term discharge pipes of the original plants at Hinkley Point and will have accumulated some of the leaked and accidental discharges from Hinkley A & B, as well as the routine liquid discharges of radioactive elements, as detailed in RIFE reports elsewhere on the EDF website

EDF have said that dredging will take 3-6 months and will begin in summer 2018. They have defended their actions by saying they are one of many companies (over many decades) dredging and depositing sediment in the Bristol Channel and that their mud is no different to that already at Cardiff Grounds. They claim that their tests, carried out by CEFAS in May 2017, show that the sediment “is not classed as radioactive under UK law and poses no threat to human health or the environment”

This is an infinitesimally small level of exposure to radiation, far below the threshold requiring a more detailed assessment or even close to approaching a radiation dose that could impact human health or the environment.

However, WANA has supported its own research. Tim Deere-Jones, an independent marine pollution researcher, has raised a number of concerns.


· Tests by CEFAS of the mud that could be dumped at Cardiff Grounds were flawed because of the 50 different radionuclides likely to be present, CEFAS only recorded the presence of 3 radionuclides.


· EDF has not accounted for the effect of dredging activity which will disturb and re-mobilise sediments.


· Sediments dumped in Cardiff Grounds are likely to be re-distributed by currents into mudflats and tidal estuaries and there may be significant sea to land transfer of radioactive particles via sea spray.

Additional work by Dr Chris Busby for WANA has confirmed that the CEFAS findings are flawed, CEFAS have not used analytical techniques that would reveal whether particles or Uranium and Plutonium are in the sediment. Official reports since the 1980s consistently state that the Bristol Channel contains radioactivity from Sellafield. It is highly probable that particulates are present. The precautionary principle dictates that CEFAS should have looked for such particles using alpha spectrometry but they did not. Data from the gamma spectrometry they did use suggests the presence of Plutonium and Uranium but it was deleted. See references below.


Contact your AM to demand a Plenary Debate and proper analysis of the Hinkley mud because currently the Welsh Governments acceptance of the dumping of the Hinkley mud is based on inadequate and flawed data. Press Conference Feb 13th 2018


Chris Busby papers Green Audit report December 2017 "The potential health effects to coastal populations of the dumping of 330,000 tons of radioactively contaminated mud on the coast of Wales” ( Written before the FoI request to CEFAS for the digital data) Green Audit report February 2018 "Analysis of Hinkley Point Jetty application mud sample digital spectra supplied by CEFAS in January 2018". press handout available at the Senedd Media Briefing Room 13th February 2018.


The individual pictures are: This is the image of sediment cores scanned from the Hamilton paper shown and cited in the press handout. This is the same Green Audit photograph as in the press handout. same particle at higher magnification. This is the image from the 1985 Hamilton paper shown in the press handout. It is a cross section of the digestive tract of an edible mussel from Ravenglass Cumbria showing hot particles detected by the same CR39 technique used by Green Audit.

Information on collection of the sediment samples in Cumbria (who, where, when)


Briefing on Hinkley mud from Tim Dere-Jones 

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