Campaigners from the Stop Hinkley campaign will be meeting on 29th June at Portishead near Bristol to take mud samples from the Bristol channel for analysis by the CRIRRAD Laboratory in France to provide a base line before any possible dumping of mud from the Hinkley Point C construction site by EDF Energy.
EDF Energy has applied for licenses to dump sediment from the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station into the Bristol Channel. It wants to dump the mud in the Cardiff Grounds, 2 km off the Cardiff City sea front, and a private disposal site off Portishead in Somerset.
The Company claims the sediment is “not radioactive under law”, but campaigners on both sides of the channel point out that annual Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) reports confirm the presence of human-made radionuclides, derived largely from over 50 years of discharges to sea from the Hinkley Point reactors, including Plutonium, Caesium 137, Tritium, Technetium 99 and Carbon 14. In 2018 EDF was granted permission to dump waste at the Cardiff inshore disposal site despite fierce opposition and a debate in the Senedd. In February 2020, EDF applied to Natural Resources Wales again for a licence to dump a further 800,0000 tonnes of mud dredged as part of building work for the new plant.
A petition against the latest proposals received over 10,000 signatures and triggered a debate in the Senedd last October. In January EDF announced its intention to apply to the Marine Management Organisation
(MMO) for a license to dump at Portishead, while also making a further application to dump at the Cardiff site. No reason has been given by EDF for the Portishead proposal, but the company had previously insisted the grounds off Cardiff Bay was the only suitable site available in the Bristol Channel.
North Somerset Council and Portishead Town Council have now joined forces in opposing the plans and asked for the application for a dumping license to be referred to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and called for a public inquiry to be set up.
The disposal site is close to Portbury Wharf Salt Marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of the Severn Estuary Special Protection Area, with the potential for adverse impacts on ecology there. An inquiry would enable a full and independent evaluation of the issues.