An independent Citizen Science Radioactivity Survey of the Somerset and South Wales shoreline sediments shows that the spread of man-made radioactivity from reactor discharges to the Bristol Channel is far more extensive and widespread throughout the region’s coasts than previously reported.
The survey was undertaken by members of Citizens’ Groups from both sides of the Bristol Channel/Severn estuary because EdF, who are dredging hundreds of thousands of tonnes of radioactive mud from the site of the proposed Hinkley C reactors, have repeatedly refused to carry out pre-dumping surveys of the Cardiff Grounds and Portishead sea dump sites where they have disposed of the HPC dredge waste. The survey was carried out in the summer of 2021 prior to the proposed dump at Portishead, but three years after the dump at Cardiff Grounds.
The Citizens’ Groups recognised that the lack of such “baseline” research meant that no one had any information on the pre-dump status of radioactivity, or of the post dump impacts of the disposal of such vast quantities of radioactivity, on the South Wales and North Somerset coastal environments or the people living on the adjacent coasts and coastal zones.
Speaking on behalf of the Somerset based Stop Hinkley and Welsh campaigns against the radioactive mud dump Marine Radioactivity Researcher Tim Deere-Jones said: “The results of this survey clearly demonstrate that there are serious grounds for concern that the Bristol Channel/Severn estuary coasts and communities had already been subjected to radiological contamination from Hinkley since the 1960s and that EdFs current programme of dumping radioactive wastes at Cardiff Grounds and Portishead should not have been permitted by the Welsh and English Agencies in the absence of the baseline data.”
In Summary the Survey:
- found that shoreline concentrations of 2 radionuclides (Caesium 137 and Americium 241) typical of the effluents from the Hinkley reactors do not decline significantly with distance from the Hinkley site as Government and Industry surveys had previously reported;
- noted that the presence of both Cs 137 and Am 241are indicators of the presence of Plutonium 239/240 and 241. (These are all listed as fission products discharged to sea from the Hinkley reactors);
- found significant concentrations of Hinkley derived radioactivity in samples from all 11 sites (7 along the Somerset coast and 4 in South Wales);
- found unexpectedly high concentrations in sediments from Bristol Docks, the tidal R. Avon, the Portishead shoreline, Burnham-on-Sea and Woodspring Bay;
- found that, along the Welsh coast all samples held significant (10Bq/Kg or more) concentrations of Caesium 137 and positive (i.e: not <less than) concentrations of Americium 241;
- found that the highest concentration of both radionuclides was detected at the most westerly of the Welsh sample sites (Splott Bay: Cardiff), which is also the most distant from the Hinkley point effluent outfalls;
- concluded that the degree of concentration of radioactivity at Splott Bay, implied a possible impact from the 2018 dumping of dredge wastes at the nearby Cardiff Grounds;
- demonstrated that the widely used, official method of analysing samples for only 15 hours was far less precise than analysing samples for 84 hours;
- proved that some of the sediment to be dredged from Bridgwater Bay and dumped at Portishead and Cardiff Grounds held well over twice as much Caesium 137 as the sediments around the dump sites, thus risking a localised increase in radioactivity concentrations as a result of the dumping of dredge waste;
- proved that the, much repeated, EdF PR statement that the material to be dredged and dumped “is typical of sediment found elsewhere in the Bristol Channel” was false and not even aligned with the empirical evidence provided by EdF itself.
Further information and analysis are available in the attached pdf. PressRelease081221