Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Summer 1998

Nycomed Amersham radioactive waste

The following is a letter sent to Cardiff Friends of the Earth by Community Concern.

Last year, Nycomed Amersham applied for a licence to bring 285 drums of radioactive waste to store at their Forest Farm site in north Cardiff. Over 1,400 letters of objection to this plan were sent to the Environment Agency by the people of Cardiff. Community Concern saw set up to research the implications of the application.

There have been four public meetings and private meetings with the Environment Agency and Dr Chambers, the site director of the site.

Community Concern have focused on two areas:

  • The transporting of waste from Harwell to Cardiff for compaction and storage
  • The current level of radioactive emissions of tritium and carbon 14 from the Cardiff site.

The waste proposed to be store in Cardiff in part originated here. It was prepared for sea disposal in 1983. When this became outlawed it remained in storage at Harwell. The Harwell site is being decommissioned. Nycomed Amersham have asked for a licence to bring the sea drums back to Cardiff, along with waste that did not originate here.

Community Concern feel that the flood plain of the River Taff is an unsuitable place for such storage. The company say that it is a temporary store, talking of 50 years or so. We are concerned that the drums will be opened and compacted here, a new and potentially hazardous procedure for the site.

The emissions are already licensed, but are a cause for concern. Tritium is a radionuclide that was once thought relatively harmless. It is now associated with cancers and birth defects.

Community Concern would like an epidemiological study into the health of the people of Cardiff and beyond to establish the safety of the Nycomed Amersham opperations. Friends of the Earth calls Cardiff the 'Tritium Capital', because it has the highest levels of emissions to the largest exposed population of any nuclear site.

The aim of Community Concern is to promote open and honest debate into the transfer of the waste, and on the levels of tritium and carbon 14 emissions in Cardiff.

The group meet regularly and are in correspondence with members of parliament, scientists, planning lawyers, and the various government agencies. We are backed by Friends of the Earth Cymru who are providing substantial expertise and support.

A decision on the licence could come at any time. If you feel strongly that Cardiff is not the place to store nuclear waste, do act now. Community Concern feel that this is the most important issue to face Cardiff. It is a decision for now and the future, for our children and grandchildren. Please help.

A Green Belt for Cardiff

From the South Wales Echo

Cardiff County Council's Planning Committee has voted to support the principle of designating areas of green belt to the east, north and south-west of the city.

This could include parts of the Wentloog Levels to the east, and Caerphilly Mountain to the north.

The Leckwith Escarpment, which is in the Vale of Glamorgan is already earmarked as an area of special landscape value.

The decision follows backing for the principle of green belts, or at least green wedges, at citizens' forum meetings and other consultations on a development plan for the city.

And the council, along with other Welsh authorities is also under pressure from the Welsh Office to move fast in creating green belts, similar to those in England.

In a letter to the Council, Wales planning minister, Win Griffiths, asked for an update in progress towards creating green belts, particularly between Cardiff and Newport.

Cardiff planning chairman, Neil Salmon, said: "Green belts are one of the key policies we are looking at in the unitary development plan."

The council's decision has been warmly welcomed by Friends of the Earth Cymru and the Campaign for Rural Wales, who have called for green belts for many years.

Butetown common sense

By Julian Langston

In our last issue we reported on the bizarre plans to remove a public transport link to one of the fastest growing developments in the country at a time when local authorities are trying to reduce car usage.

The railway line from Cardiff Queen Street Station to Cardiff Bay was to be closed as it was thought to be an 'eyesore'. Neither Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC) nor Cardiff County Council would commit themselves to a rail-based replacement, such as Light Rapid Transit (modern trams), which could make a real impact in traffic reduction in the city centre and Cardiff Bay areas. Instead they thought a shuttle bus would be enough. This would almost certainly have failed to attract people out of their cars, subject as it would be to congestion in the city centre.

Additionally, people would need to leave the train at Queen Street and transfer onto the bus outside the station - hardly a seamless journey.

Common sense has prevailed as Railtrack has refused to give permission for the demolition of the line. It seems that CBDC's planners were unaware of the legal procedures they needed to go through in order to close the line.

They are now crying 'foul' because in an article in the Western Mail, they accused Railtrack of "wrecking hopes for a major environmental improvement by refusing to allow the demolition of a mile-long eyesore." Quite what sort of environmental improvement they expected to see by implementing plans that were bound to increase traffic levels isn't clear.

Friends of the Earth protect tree

From the South Wales Echo

Eco-Warriors surrounded a tree in Cardiff today to stop it being cut down by council workers. Around a dozen protesters from Cardiff Friends of the Earth descended on Victoria Park in Canton. They were bidding to halt workmen who were due to start work on a Victorian bandstand as part of the park's centenary celebrations.

It is the latest phase of a £240,000 project to restore Victoria Park to how it would have looked 100 years ago. But the scheme would mean the removal of a Redwood Tree, which stands on the site of the park's original bandstand. Cardiff County Council, which is carrying out the work, said cutting down the tree was the option which had the least effect on the environment. It is hoped the bandstand will be completed by July when a special opening ceremony will be held. The work is being funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, £82,000 of which is being spent on the bandstand. The remaining money has been used to plant new trees etc.

But today Julian Rosser of Cardiff Friends of the Earth said: "It is a tragic irony that this destruction is being carried out in the name of heritage".