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Research finds ‘significant concentrations’ of radioactivity in samples taken from across the Somerset and south Wales coast

09 Dec 2021 3 minutes Read
The boat transporting mud to be dumped in the Cardiff Grounds in 201. Picture by Cian Ciarán

A new survey has concluded the spread of man-made radioactivity from reactor discharges into the Bristol Channel is far more extensive and widespread than previously reported.

The research has also detected a high concentration of radioactivity in Splott Bay, which could be linked to the controversial dumping of dredged waste off the Cardiff coast in 2018.

The survey was undertaken over the summer by groups from both sides of the Bristol Channel after EDF Energy refused to carry out pre-dumping surveys of the Cardiff Grounds and Portishead sea dump sites where they have disposed of waste from the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

The survey found that shoreline concentrations of two radio nuclides (Caesium 137 and Americium 241) typical of the effluents from the Hinkley reactors and indicators of the presence of Plutonium 239/240 and 241, do not decline significantly with distance from the Hinkley site as Government and Industry surveys had previously reported

Overall, the study found significant concentrations of Hinkley derived radioactivity in samples from all 11 sites, seven along the Somerset coast and four in south Wales and found unexpectedly high concentrations in sediments from Bristol Docks, the tidal River Avon, the Portishead shoreline, Burnham-on-Sea and Woodspring Bay.

Along the Welsh coast all samples held significant concentrations of Caesium 137 (10Bq/Kg or more) and positive concentrations of Americium 241.

The highest concentration of both radio nuclides was detected at the most westerly of the Welsh sample sites (Splott Bay), which is also the most distant from the Hinkley point effluent outfalls, leading to the conclusion that the degree of concentration has been possibly impacted by the 2018 dumping of dredge wastes at the Cardiff Grounds

The samples also confirmed 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.

Grounds for concern

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 August the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) approved EDF’s application to dump mud and sediment from the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station into a coastal site close to the north Somerset town of Portishead.

EDF had originally applied to National Resources Wales in February 2020 for a licence to dump 800,0000 tonnes of mud dredged as part of building work for the new plant being built on the site of the disused Hinkley Point A facility at the Cardiff Grounds after previously disposing of mud at the site two years earlier.

It claims the Bridgewater Bay sediment is “not radioactive under law”, but campaigning groups point out that the UK Government’s official radioactivity monitoring reports annually confirm the presence of human-made radioactivity, derived largely from over 50 years of discharges to sea from the Hinkley Point reactors, including Plutonium, Caesium 137, Tritium, Technetium 99, Carbon 14 into the Bridgewater Bay sedimentary and marine environment.

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David
David
1 month ago

Proof that Neil McEvoy was right all along.

Malachy Mc Evoy
Malachy Mc Evoy
1 month ago
Reply to  David

The only AM to voice concerns and condemn the dumping of nuclear waste was Neil Mc Evoy not one other voice was raised he was clssed as a scaremongerer seeking publicity and treated with ridicule by Drakefords and probably every other A M the labour party told the world that Cardiff Bay was the place to use the dump nuclear waste Neil and the scientists were absolutely right in their convictions but were ridiculed by lazy and indeed corrupt politicians in corruption bay °°

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

800,000 tonnes.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Who knows. was any body checking not that bunch of labour AMs

Jack
Jack
1 month ago

The phrase ‘could be’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.

Low radioactivity levels fluctuate naturally sometimes depending on sediment movement. Cornwall and SW England has more radon than the rest of Great Britain. It’s possible recent strong storms have brought this sediment up the Bristol Channel.

Robin Lynn
Robin Lynn
1 month ago

Just in time to test the Police & Crime Bill?

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago

I could not believe that the Welsh labour government in Wales just allowed them to dump that contaminated mud in Cardiff Bay the same bunch that allowed the opencast mine in merthy Tydfil without a health impact study for the health of the people who are living right under the mine it wouldn’t have been allowed in England to close to people’s houses but that bunch of labour AMs allowed it to go ahead they didn’t care about us

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
1 month ago

Nowhere in this article does it mention whether the radioactivity levels are 1) unsafe or 2) above the legally permitted limits. Unless they are, this is just the usual scaremongering nonsense.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

Contaminated mud made in England why did that bunch of labour AMs allowed it to be dumped in Cardiff Bay they were elected too defend the Welsh people from that sort of thing is there any safe level of radioactive material?? Watch out Wales if it needs to be treated in the future.look at the Welsh coal tips take all the profits and pass the cost to make the them safe on to the Welsh people wake up you labour AMs stop the English just using Wales

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

Yawn. Go take your narrow-minded hatred of the English elsewhere, please.

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

Cant face the Truth. and who took the money out of the abervan children’s disaster fund to make the tip that had killed them safe. how low can the British government sink when it’s to do with Wales

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

I don’t hate the English people just the establishment for the Way that they treat wales..the Welsh people have been loyal friend’s off the UK for hundreds of years but why do they always try to put our country and people down including the BBC

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

Whether NRW had any choice in the matter once Crown Estates had given the go ahead is one question but another is historic. When Chernobyl blew up and Welsh sheep were contaminated with Caesium people like Tim surveyed the Irish sea and found pre-existing levels higher than anywhere else in the world. Not only was the sea “radioactive” but rivers like the Teifi and Aeron were contaminated beyond normal high tide levels. They finally traced it to Sellafield and the poisons dumped in Beaufort’s Dyke. I am not suggesting the same applies here but the UK has been an open… Read more »

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