Press Release - 31st March 2011
The Environment Agency ignores local people's request for transparent investigation into claim of contaminated land on Hinkley C site
The Environment Agency (EA) has failed to carry out a transparent investigation into allegations that land at the proposed Hinkley C nuclear site is contaminated with enriched uranium, the local campaign group Stop Hinkley said today.
Stop Hinkley has been urging the EA for some time to investigate allegations of contaminated land at Hinkley C, the first of a new generation of Nuclear Power Stations to be built in the UK by EDF.
Since these claims were first made on 12th January, Stop Hinkley have constantly been demanding that further tests are undertaken using Safegrounds guidance. Safegrounds (1) provide best practice for the nuclear industry on how to deal with safety issues. Both the EA and EDF were involved in drafting and signed up to Safegrounds.
The report just published by the EA (2) on further testing, however, does not use Safegrounds' recommendations to involve employees, local residents, non-governmental and community based organisations and individuals. Further criticisms of the EA's methodology have been made by Chris Busby of Green Audit who did the original analysis that indicated the land was contaminated (3).
When asked by Katy Attwater of Stop Hinkley why Safegrounds best practice had not been used Paul Gainey, Press Officer for the Environment Agency said: "What is Safegrounds I have never heard of it, I will have to ask someone". His later response was that "We didn't use Safegrounds because we had already decided it was implausible that the land was contaminated". Katy pointed out to him that there were numerous examples of enriched uranium having leaked from nuclear plants:
In October 2009 French watchdog ASN suspended work on the French nuclear plant at Cadarache after three times as much plutonium was found at the site than expected. It was reported that the incident revealed gaps in the safety culture of those responsible for the plant run by Areva, the company proposing to supply reactors to Hinkley C. (4)
In July 2008, at Tricastin nuclear plant in France, uranium leaked into rivers and wells when a tank was being cleaned. The amount was 100 times higher than the years limit for that plant. Socatin Safety Agency, a subsidiary of Areva said groundwater, wells and rivers had shown no effects but the local authority subsequently banned drinking, fishing, swimming and irrigation using these waters. (5)
Nikki Clark of Stop Hinkley commented "Events unfolding in Fukushima, together with previous incidents, have proved time and again that the nuclear industry enjoys far too cosy a relationship with it's regulators. Given the public's growing mistrust of the nuclear industry and it's regulatory bodies worldwide, we feel it is vital that the highest safety standards are met and that all action taken should have full transparency and full involvement of local people and truly independent nuclear watchdogs such as Stop Hinkley and Green Audit who first raised the alarm about this contamination."
Katy Attwater, Deputy Press Officer, Stop Hinkley