Environment Secretary “gagged” by nuclear mud legal challenge

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

The Environment & Rural Affairs Secretary, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), refused to comment on the ongoing dispute regarding the dumping –  off the coast of Cardiff – of dredged mud from the construction site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset.

The Secretary said that due to an ongoing legal challenge in the High Court, she was unable to comment to the topical question, tabled by Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central). Neil requested that Natural Resources Wales suspend the licence to dump the mud until more detailed tests are carried out.

Lesley Griffiths repeated the findings of a Petitions Committee inquiry, debated and approved by AMs in May, which found that there was no scientific reason to pause the works, there was no danger to human health and it complied with International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) guidelines.

The court case was recently adjourned after the judge ruled that EDF’s evidence on whether the mud required an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was “not accurate”.

The Cabinet Secretary underlined that a lack of an EIA didn’t mean the absence of a thorough assessment of the environmental impact.

“But this fundamentally is an issue of transparency regarding this mud, and can Welsh Government not see now that your actions in not pushing for that retesting has caused that lack of trust in your actions?”
– Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn)

Despite the stance of the Cabinet Secretary, a number of Labour AMs  – who had previously been quiet on the issue – also raised concerns from their own constituents and other experts.

“And I also echo the question about why this particular place was chosen for the dumping to take place when it’s only 2 km, I believe, from the shore. And what are the benefits to us in south Wales by having this mud dumped here? What sort of discussions or debates did take place about that decision.”
– Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North)

Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan) said a former member of a UK Government committee on low-level radiation raised concerns about the testing carried out on the mud.

Julie Morgan AM added that a large number of constituents were worried and further work was needed to reassure them.

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