New Coal Mine Would be a Myriad of Threats – Letter in the Westmorland Gazette

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Oppose the coal mine plan – letter in the Westmorland Gazette

The new coal mine proposed under the Irish Sea is ‘not a threat’? (Letters July 5) True, it is not just one threat! Like a many headed hydra it promises a myriad of threats to wildlife, health, climate and the safe stewardship of Sellafield.

Despite this myriad of threats. Kent Brooks’ letter of support for the mine is evidence that the PR for this plan has been astonishingly successful.

So what is the threat to wildlife?  RSPB and others have pointed out that the development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head Site of Special Scientific Interest. through disturbance to breeding birds during excavations and coal processing.

The impacts from this vast mine on Cumbria’s troubled water resources and hydrology are also of great concern to human welfare, as well as that of wildlife.

What about the climate impacts that Kent Brooks believes are non existent?  At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt/year CO2.

Some of the CO2 would be produced in Cumbria and some at the locations of steelmaking where the coal is to be exported. Given that all countries are equally bound by the Paris Agreement and equally committed to reducing fossil fuel use – it is highly unlikely that steel manufacturers will be seeking to import Cumbrian coal.  There is rapid innovation in steel-making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component.

Kent Brooks says he does not understand why nuclear safety campaigners are so concerned about this plan.

This is why we are concerned –

at just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining, this development is ridiculously near to more than 140 tons of plutonium.

Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining are well documented. Also well documented is the fact that there are large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.

As well as nuclear wastes on teh Sellafield site there are radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed from ongoing and historic discharges.

Don’t take my word for it. All these threats can be read about on the submissions to Cumbria County Council on their website under planning application reference 4/17/9007.

Please do write to CCC before mid August and make your voice heard in opposition to this new coal mine plan which threatens Cumbria in a myriad of ways.

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

NOTE: The planning meeting has been deferred again until the Autumn – so more time to get your objections in!  You can write to the Senior Democratic Services Officer quoting planning application reference 4/17/9007 West Cumbria Mining

Email       Jackie.Currie@cumbria.gov.uk

 

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#DivestParliament Congratulations, Thank You and a Request to the Irish Parliament

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photo credit Climate Action

Fantastic news! Ireland is on course to become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuel assets. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle is set to become law by the end of the year.

I have sent a letter to the Irish Government congratulating them on backing the Bill and asking them to keep the Irish Sea safe from the plan for a coal mine deep underneath the fragile and complex Irish Sea bed.

Please do send them your own letter of congratulations and request that the Irish Parliament do all they can to stop this crazy plan for a coal mine under the Irish Sea.

email the Irish Parliament at     info@oireachtas.ie

Dear Houses of the Oireachtas

Planning Application 4/17/9007 –

Woodhouse Mine

First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years and it is under the Irish Sea!

Thank you so much for backing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle. For Ireland to be the world’s first country ever to divest public money from fossil fuel is truly a great achievement and something wonderful to celebrate.

It is therefore a terrible irony that in the same summer that Ireland pledges to divest from Fossil Fuel , the Irish Sea is being primed to become host to the first new deep coal mine (Woodhouse Mine) in the UK for 30 years. The plan is due to be heard by Cumbria County Council on August 23rd 2018.

There are many reasons to oppose this deep coking coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees on the Cumbrian Coast.

Climate

The developers, West Cumbria Mining, imply that coal used in steelmaking does not produce CO2 emissions. This is clearly not the case. WCM even claim to be reducing CO2 emissions compared to importing steel making coal from the USA.  However the fact that the plan is to export most of the coal produced makes a nonsense of this claim. The energy used in running the mine itself and transport, the burning of the lower class of coal and the burning of the higher class coal in steelmaking is staggering. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2. This is an Alice in Wonderland plan in many ways as there is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component of steel, making coking coal redundant.

 Proximity to Sellafield

At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to the proposed new nuclear reactors at ‘Moorside’) this development is ridiculously near to over 140 tons of plutonium.   Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well documented The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate. There are~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.”

Sea Bed Subsidence and Resuspension of Radioactive Wastes from the Irish Sea Bed

The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have submitted to Cumbria County Council that

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.

Local campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland have recently sampled the beaches near Sellafield (Sellafield stops monitoring and retrieval of radioactive particles over the summer in order not to frighten beach users).  A full one third of all random samples were found to contain cesium and americium in levels above that safe for human health. Any increase in radioactive particles being resuspended and brought back on the waves of the Irish Sea to Cumbrian and Irish shorelines is to be avoided.

I am writing to thank you on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole for divesting from fossil fuels.

And…

It is a Big ask but I would like to ask that you protect the Irish Sea (and so much more) by opposing the Irish Sea deep coal mine on behalf of Ireland.

With many thanks

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

 https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

Cracking Letter in the Westmorland Gazette …still no word from Mainstream Environmental Journos!

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Another Cracking Letter from Anita in the Westmorland Gazette.  In a long running exchange this is a reply to Kent Brook’s letter about the “need” for coking coal to provide steel for WMD etc.  Whether or not you want nuclear WMD …there are other ways to make steel. To mine the coking coal you also need to mine the ‘middlings’ coal, off St Bees under the Irish Sea.

Here is Anita’s letter as it appeared in print

“MR KENT Brooks, (Letters, May 10, ‘Defence must be priority’) is, of course, entitled to his opinion about the proposed coal mine near Sellafield.

However, my opinion, having had a coal face worker in the family for many years, remains the same. Excavating a very deep coal mine beneath the Irish Sea, so close to Europe’s largest nuclear waste facility at Sellafield, is a risk too far.

Europe’s largest nuclear waste facility at Sellafield is a risk too far

In any case, we should not be mining coal at all, if we are serious about trying to mitigate climate change and rising sea levels.”

 

There is a petition to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Fisheries and Conservation Authority Concerns: Irish Sea Subsidence and Resuspension of Radionuclides

 

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – Petition

There are many reasons to object to the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority has voiced concerns. They highlight the following concern which is uniquely perilous to this area of the Irish Sea:

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.”

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole along with others have also highlighted this specific concern and would draw the Development Control and Regulation Committee’s attention to this photograph supplied to us by the Low Level Radiation Campaignsellapart04337.JPG

This is what radiation does to plastic

The centre of this image shows radiation tracks from a particle found near Sellafield. This is what radiation does to plastic. The Low Level Radiation Campaign tell us “it’s probably Plutonium, and about 1 micron diameter. Official reports since 1989 state that the Bristol Channel contains radioactivity from Sellafield. Since 1965 Hinkley Point also has discharged particles. Evidence that particles like this are present in the sediment has been covered up. When inhaled they are likely to be scavenged to lymph nodes. They deliver high doses of radiation to whatever body tissue they lodge in.”  Plutonium is found being washed up on West Cumbrian beaches from radioactive wastes discharged to the Irish Sea from Sellafield reprocessing.  Seabed subsidence would dramatically increase the “natural”  resuspension of Sellafield wastes from the seabed.

More from the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority below.

“The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is the relevant body for the regulation of inshore sea fisheries within its District. It has a range of duties including sustainably managing the exploitation of sea fisheries resources and balancing the social and economic benefits of exploiting resources with the need to protect the marine environment.

Issues of concern to the NWIFCA regarding potential impacts on the coastal and marine environment relate to all marine and coastal areas located near to the project that could be impacted, not just Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – Natura 2000 sites, SSSI and Marine Conservation Zones in this case. There are legal procedures for assessing risk and impacts on protected sites and obligations for minimising / mitigating against these risks. However NWIFCA would ask that assessments take a broader approach and consider any risk posed to all of the coastal / marine environment within the zone of effect.

Details of many of the aspects of the development are naturally currently relatively sketchy and it is therefore not possible to provide in-depth response. However at this stage there are areas of concern highlighted below.

Issues of particular concern are outlined as follows:

  1. Dewatering of mine and discharge – will require an environmental permit to discharge from the Environment Agency. The level of pre-discharge treatment that the water will require and the discharge limits are yet to be set, and require more detailed assessment of the chemistry of the water within the anhydrite mine. It is noted that West Cumbria Mining is also to carry out a series of modelling and assessments of impact of the water on the marine environment.The documentation states that “At this stage it is not possible to model how the discharged water will disperse, and therefore it is not possible to accurately predict what effect there might be on the local” … fish and invertebrate life.

    Until this data is obtained, firmer proposals are put forward and dispersal modelling has been completed the NWIFCA will continue to have serious concerns about the risk posed by contaminated water affecting coastal and marine environments and would request full continuing consultation and engagement with EA permitting over this aspect of the mine development.

    It is noted that WCM will conduct a wide-ranging marine environmental baseline monitoring study in support of the application to be made to the Environment Agency for a Permit to Discharge the mine water to sea. NWIFCA would request early sight of the study’s results to assist in our future responses.

    It is understood that the water taken from the anhydrite mine will be subject to continuous monitoring, to ensure that it continues to meet the water quality standard set by the Environment Agency. NWIFCA would request it is fully engaged in discussion over the nature of the monitoring subject to results of the water chemistry and assessed level of risk.

  2. Position of the discharge pipeline and diffuser – will be subject to an MMO Marine Licence application at which point NWIFCA will respond formally to an MMO consultation. Until more detailed particulars are decided for pipeline specification and position NWIFCA reserves concerns over impacts on coastal and intertidal habitats and species.At this stage NWIFCA would ask that the design ensures that all outfall pipeline discharge is below the lowest astronomical tide to prevent risk of impact on intertidal areas.
  3. Further potential impacts on coastal and marine systems could be impacted by the following during construction of the mine and its associated infrastructure:
    1. Physical mobilisation (such as soil erosion, run-off and sediment deposition);
    2. Disturbance of existing contaminated soils during earthworks or increased infiltration;
    3. Leaching once the soil is removed and areas of open excavations are exposed.

    The NWIFCA notes that construction works will be managed under a Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP) that will be developed post-planning determination, and would request early sight of the plan once drafted. As above NWIFCA reserves concerns over the risk of contaminated water reaching the coastal and marine waters until further detail has been put forward.

  1. Storm water discharge – NWIFCA has learned from the documentation that during the operational phase, the anticipated discharge of excess storm water flows from the site into the sea via the existing outfall has the potential to provide a pathway for contaminants into the marine environment. These flows will be sporadic and unpredictable in nature. WCM state that drainage and water treatment infrastructure on-site will be designed to ensure that storm flows are passed through silt traps and oil interceptors and to enable flows to be discharged at a controlled rate to ensure that any significant influx of storm water into the marine environment does not occur.As a result WCM consider that the risk of the storm water discharge leading to adverse operational phase effects are considered be negligible. An Environmental Permit for this discharge will be required and NWIFCA deigns to Environment Agency advice on this point.
  2. Offshore Subsidence – impact on shoreline profile and wave heights. NWIFCA note that WCM propose a ‘no mine zone’ within Cumbria Coast MCZ and St Bees SSSI which we welcome. WCM state that “Given the small predicted seabed height changes, the slow rate of subsidence and the small changes in slope, combined with the fact that subsidence will not occur over the whole mined area it is likely that impacts on statutory protected areas in the vicinity of the development (i.e. the Cumbria Coast MCZ and the Solway Firth pSPA) will be negligible”.This does not dispel concerns over potential for subsidence of the seafloor outside of these Protected Areas which could have impacts on the benthos plus potential consequences to shoreline profile and wave heights, which could in turn result in unintended consequences that would affect these protected sites and elsewhere.

    Data and understanding are limited at the present time and in order to address this, WCM will commission surveys and a numerical modelling study to more accurately predict the potential impacts, if any, of subsidence on the intertidal and marine environments, to be completed prior to commencement of works.

    “Data will also be gathered regarding subtidal communities to determine the distribution, extent and likely responses of any potential sensitive receivers. In addition, a Marine Monitoring Plan will be implemented to monitor the bathymetry of the seabed and surficial sediments properties (including benthic communities) overlying the extraction zones using the data collected in 2016-17 as a baseline”.

    NWIFCA would ask who the regulator for subsidence risk is and stress the need for further dialogue and engagement over this issue once predictions of potential impacts have been produced.

  3. Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.