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Enriched uranium contamination from a nuclear plant built on a sea coast, Hinkley Point NPP, UK.


New evidence of enriched uranium reactor fuel contamination of the land from a nuclear plant built on a sea coast may explain increases in cancer near the coast and near nuclear plants. Reactor fuel contamination at Hinkley Point NPP.  

Download study:  Hinkley Point ECRR 2011

A report for Environmental Impact Assessment on works to build a new NPP at Hinkley Point shows that the EIA is based on wrong values for natural radioactivity, that it wrongly claims there is no radioactivity from the NPPs, that it ignores the presence of enriched uranium, and that it omits important data for surface contamination.

On the basis of the EIA, EdF has claimed no radionuclides from the existing reactors have been found and that land contamination on the site is not a safety issue. However, there is more Uranium than can be explained on the basis of natural levels. The range of Uranium in north Somerset is about 18-24 Bq/kg. This is seriously at odds with the inflated value of 330 Bq/kg the EIA uses as a reassuring and, I conclude, mendacious baseline. Where the samples do show the fingerprint isotopic ratio of natural U, the concentrations are well above the natural north Somerset range.

Worse still, the contamination is composed of enriched uranium to a significant extent. Its origin has to be explained, as EU doesn’t exist naturally. The excess man-made uranium has been calculated  to be approximately 40Bq/kg (i.e. roughly 2x natural for the locality).  This means there would be 10 tonnes of man-made enriched uranium in the 2 km2 area of the site alone and if, as it seems, it has got there on the wind the countryside outside the fence is almost certainly stiff with it.

The GA report suggests that the enriched uranium came from the reactors; the AGR would seem to be the likely suspect but surely it is for the SLC to investigate and come clean. If enriched uranium is present other radionuclides are likely to be there in addition, thus increasing the radiological hazard.

Worse still again, the EIA gives no data for the uppermost 26 cm of soil. The data for the levels more than 26 cm below the surface show that the deeper they went the less uranium they found, and a lower proportion of enriched uranium. It is reasonable to expect this trend to continue to the surface; ” . we might expect the surface 20cm to be highly contaminated with enriched atomic reactor fuel residues” . “up to 150 Bq/Kg or more.”

Green Audit recommends full site characterisation before the soil is disturbed by preparations for a new reactor. If EdF is working to SAFEGROUNDS good practice guidance on managing contaminated land (as they ought) then off-site stakeholders must be involved in the decision-making process immediately.

GA’s recommendations are on page 12. A lay summary is at the end.

It is notable that official monitoring of radioactivity in food and the environment gives very little data on Uranium as EA believes it presents a very small radiological risk. The GA report outlines the reasons why this belief is ill-founded. It mentions persistent reports of excess cancers in the area.

You may even see 2 videos from the Hinkley public hearing:


Directed by Alain de Halleux:

Are you for or against nuclear power? And what if the question lay elsewhere? An essential witness is missing from this debate, that of nuclear energy workers. Our safety is in their hands. This film gives them a voice. Part 1/7:

50 seconds in to the last part of the film there is a reconstruction of the air flows over Europe after the Chernobyl accident. Part 7/7: