A NEW application has been filed to dump more mud off the Welsh coast from a nuclear power site in Somerset, prompting fresh safety concerns.

Energy firm EDF is currently building a new power station on its Hinkley Point nuclear site, and since 2018 mud from the construction area has been dumped off the South Wales coast, near Cardiff Bay.

Today the firm announced it had submitted new plans to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to dredge and dump a further 600,000 cubic metres of mud off the Welsh coast.

The original plans were met with an angry backlash, fuelled by concerns the mud would contain radioactive material.

A petition launched by the Stop The Dump campaign in 2017 collected 7,000 signatures in opposition.

Tim Deere-Jones, who started that petition, said this week that building work at Hinkley Point had "disturbed radioactive particles" in sediments at the site.

He cited UK government reports on Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) as evidence that the "dredging of underwater sediment and shoreline construction work at Hinkley Point have resulted in significantly increased radioactivity levels in the environment".

RIFE measures radioactivity at seven locations along the Somerset coast.

Mr Deere-Jones added: “Our campaign urged the Welsh Government to conduct radioactivity measurements along the Welsh shorelines that were likely to be affected [by the mud dump].

"The refusal of Welsh Government and NRW to carry out the research... has left coastal communities in a position of complete ignorance about the impacts of the dump.

"Although we have no Welsh coastal data, these results from the Somerset coast confirm our worst fears and predictions."

EDF disputes claims that the work is spreading harmful material. Chris Fayers, the firm's head of environment at Hinkley Point, said this week: "The mud [to be dumped off the Welsh coast] is typical of sediment found anywhere in the Bristol Channel and no different [from] sediment already at the Cardiff Grounds site.

"During the first phase of dredging, NRW confirmed that independent analysis showed that the levels were so low as to be not classed as radioactive under UK law. It poses no threat to human health or the environment."

In response to the RIFE results, Mr Fayers said: “Radiation levels in the report mentioned by Tim Deere-Jones are so low they are effectively not detectable, even when using the most sensitive and sophisticated equipment. Dredging had not even begun during the period the reports cover.  The mud is entirely safe, both for the environment and for the public.”

Under the new plans, EDF has requested that NRW samples and tests mud from the Hinkley Point construction site. NRW will complete an assessment of the plans and has launched a six-week consultation with experts and the public.

“This is the first stage of a long application process. The disposal activity in 2018 caused great public concern, so we intend to inform and engage with people about these plans over the next few months," said Michael Evans, of NRW.

“We will only grant the licence if the company can demonstrate it complies with legal requirements and we’re confident the proposed activity will not harm people or the environment.”

To view the public consultation, click here