Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
A Cardiff court will play host to a group of activists on Tuesday, as they fight for an injunction to stop 300,000 tonnes of “nuclear mud” from a Somerset power station being disposed of just outside Cardiff.
The unusual dispute centres on the “Hinkley Point C” building site, where energy supplier EDF are currently in the process of constructing two new nuclear reactors.
In order to drill the six shafts needed for the reactors, EDF is clearing 300,000 tonnes of mud and sediment – and planning to dispose of it just off the Welsh coast, on the Cardiff Grounds sandbank.
The prospect of that amount of waste being ditched a mile and a half away hasn’t exactly excited locals or environmental campaigners, but there’s another factor causing added concern.
For decades, Hinkley Point has been a nuclear power hub, with its first station – “A” – operating for 35 years before closing in 2000. Hinkley Point B was opened in 1976 and is still functioning today.
The presence of these two plants has led to concerns over whether the mud there is radioactive and when the plans were announced, various online petitions calling for the Welsh Assembly to look into the matter were launched online, gathering a total of 100,000 signatures by mid-September.
Throughout the process, energy suppliers EDF have remained adamant that public safety is not at risk, with a spokesperson previously stating, on numerous occasions: “The mud is typical of sediment found anywhere in the Bristol Channel and no different to sediment already at the Cardiff Grounds site.”
Natural Resources Wales have backed them up too and say on their website that mud tested in a laboratory “did not have unacceptable levels of chemicals or radiological materials and was suitable for disposal at sea”.
But these statements have not satisfied campaigners – who count among their number a member of welsh…