By Kelly Lundeen
Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2018-19
A plan to continue dumping some 330,000 tons of contaminated mud was approved by the Welsh Assembly on Oct. 10, 2018 following its inadequate testing for radioactivity. The sludge is being dredged from England’s Hinkley Point C reactor construction site, loaded onto a barge, often at night, and taken across the Bristol Channel into Welsh waters, where it is dumped. The first round of dumping ended in October, and will resume in January 2019. The Welsh Assembly’s decision relied on data from a study verified by Natural Resources Wales that stated, “The material tested did not have unacceptable levels of chemicals or [radioactive] materials and was suitable for disposal at sea.”
However the material tested was only skimmed from the top two inches of sediments. Past discharges of radionuclides (radioactive materials) from Hinkley Point would have been found in higher concentrations at deeper levels. Moreover, the tests did not look for uranium, plutonium or about 90% of other radionuclides potentially present. Not surprisingly, the tests found that the mud “poses no threat to human health or the environment,” and therefore was not classified as radioactive and not subject to international treaties prohibiting such dumping. The question is begged: If the mud poses no threat, why don’t the English dump it in their waters?