BBC interview allays fears of 'radioactive mud'
6 December 2017
Dr David Richards, from the School of Geographical Sciences and research theme leader for environmental hazards and risks at the South West Nuclear Hub, was interviewed by the BBC this week about a proposal to move 300,000 tonnes of mud from the Hinkley Point area to a site just off the coast of Wales, near Cardiff.
Research in collaboration with UWE and Cardiff University has used high-resolution mass-spectrometers to do ultra-trace isotope work, and developed methods for radiocaesium and plutonium analysis.
This research has used environmental samples from the Severn Estuary, which are challenging because of low levels, to develop methods and establish sources of radionuclides in sediments. This works supports ongoing efforts by the Hub in Fukushima, Japan.
Interview on BBC Wales and Points West TV
Click on the link in the tweet below or http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-42226392 to see the full BBC article, including the interview with Dr Richards.
Tests found it was about as harmful 'as eating 20 bananas a year' 🍌https://t.co/5ypfdhivTD— BBC Wales News (@BBCWalesNews) December 5, 2017
The story also featured on BBC Points West news on Tuesday 5th December (from 9:14-11:45).
Research suggests radioactive content is negligible
Dr Richards and PhD student, James Dunne, analysed sediments from salt marshes near Portishead and Sand Bay, which contained radioactivity levels of the same order of magnitude as of those at Hinkley Point.
He told BBC Wales: "At all times it is low, barely above background radiation. There's a large amount of sediment involved here, but if you total the amount of radioactivity it is still quite small."
He added: "Most of the radiation that humans receive comes from natural sources that you cannot avoid, or they might be coming from medical sources or transatlantic flights".
"The levels of extra dose that we would be getting from these sediments is minimal, negligible".
Campaign against mud disposal
The Guardian and the BBC amongst others have recently reported the growing opposition to a sediment dredging operation that will take place as part of the Hinkley Point C construction project. Despite these activities being granted a licence back in 2013, public concern has grown about the possible exposure to radioactive materials. The Welsh Assembly is currently receiving further evidence, with Natural Resources Wales expected to present to Assembly Members later this week.
EDF Energy have published a full Q&A briefing to explain why the work needs to take place.
This research is available to view open access, funded by Natural Environment Research Council, in the analytical chemistry journal, Talanta.
- Dunne, Richards and Chen (2017): Procedures for precise measurements of 135Cs/137Cs atom ratios in environmental samples at extreme dynamic ranges and ultra-trace levels by thermal ionization mass spectrometry
This story was edited and reposted from the South West Nuclear Hub website.