Plaid pledges to keep eagle eye on Hinkley mud dumping

Plans by EDF to dump 600,000 cubic tonnes of mud in Cardiff Bay will be watched with an eagle eye, a Senedd debate into the proposal has heard.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow environment minister Llyr Gruffydd also called for a full and transparent Environmental Impact Assessment into the proposed dumping of mud from the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

The proposal by EDF to dump more mud on Cardiff Grounds, two miles offshore, was discussed in the Senedd today after a 10,000-strong petition was submitted.

Llyr Gruffydd MS stated that the numbers signing the petition was itself an indication of the “very real concerns among people in Wales about the plan to dump mud from Hinkley Point C off the coast of Cardiff.”

Mr Gruffydd said he had engaged with scientists and campaigners from Geiger Bay, who articulate those concerns about the impact such dumping would have on both marine life and people on this side of the Severn Estuary. He said: “I’ve also engaged with the regulatory body, Natural Resources Wales, and questioned them about the proposals. I made it clear in my meeting with their Marine Licensing Team that a thorough environmental impact assessment was necessary before this proposal could proceed.

“EDF, the firm behind the project, have felt it necessary to commission marine science experts to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment before NRW insisted on doing so. It’s a recognition, I think, of the need for a comprehensive and thorough analysis of sediment samples. This goes beyond the initial sampling plan, which was subject to public consultation, and I trust that EDF’s scoping will be comprehensive and the findings will be made available to concerned residents and scientists.

 “Why do we in Plaid Cymru support a full and transparent Environmental Impact Assessment – the main thrust of this petition?

“Quite simply because of the history of the site, which has been a nuclear power plant for more than half a century. Radioactive particles from the outflow pipes of Hinkley Point A (which operated from 1965-2000) and Hinkley Point B, which has open since 1976, have been flushed out into Bridgewater Bay for the last 55 years. There were plutonium leaks from Hinkley Point A in the 1970s which may also have contaminated the mud they want to dump in Cardiff Bay.  

“This new proposal is to dump eight times as much (600,000 cubic tonnes compared to 82,000 tonnes last time). Enough time has elapsed to enable the EIA to examine and assess what happened to the sediment dumped at the Cardiff Grounds Dispersal site in 2018.”

Mr Gruffydd added that measurements both at sea and on land should be taken prior to any further dumping:

“The EIA should also ensure that radiation levels along the Southern coast of Wales are measured before any further dumping, to provide baseline data against which any increases in radiation as a result of any further dumping could be determined.

“With the tidal range in the Severn, it’s very likely this mud will disperse far and wide and particles could be washed ashore – the impacts of this on people living along the coast, using the beaches and those who eat seafood should be measured and assessed.”

He added:

“During my meeting last month with NRW, I made clear what was expected in granting a licence for further dumping. If the Wellbeing of Future Generations is to be more than a hollow slogan, it means we need to ensure that safety for the future is hard wired into this process. A precautionary principle should apply. And I will be watching over this process with an eagle eye to ensure the best outcome for our environment and the health and wellbeing of people in Wales.”

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