Extracts below from investigative article by Charlie Jaay...
This summer, there are plans to conduct seismic surveys off the coast of Cumbria, to investigate the feasibility of depositing heat generating, high level nuclear waste in a Nuclear Geological Disposal Facility (GDF), at a depth of up to 1000 metres below the seabed. Charlie Jaay reveals the devastating impacts this may have for marine life, and investigates whether deep sea disposal is an appropriate solution for our growing nuclear waste problem.
Dr Chris Parsons, Marine Mammal Scientist, tells Environment Journal: ‘There is a lot of scientific evidence about the problems underwater noise can lead to – seismic surveys roughly 3000 km away were loud enough to drown out the mating calls of whales on the middle of the Atlantic. Conducting seismic surveys in an area known to be inhabited by many highly sensitive species is really concerning.’
The Zoological Society of London’s Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) is responsible for recovering, and then investigating how and why whales and dolphins strand around the English and Welsh coast.
Speaking to Environment Journal, CSIP project manager, Rob Deaville argues: ‘Through the course of our investigations over the last 30 years, we know that noise exposure can be a problem for a wide variety of cetaceans – dolphins, porpoise and whales. Noise related impacts have also been causally linked to many cetacean stranding and mass stranding events globally.
‘Various potentially vulnerable cetacean and other marine species are normally resident across this region, and we’re concerned that the proposed use of seismic surveys over the summer could lead to a number of impacts, ranging from temporary displacement to more direct physical effects, including mortality.’
Marine Radioactivity Researcher and Consultant, Tim Deere-Jones, has been commissioned by the campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL) to carry out what it feels is necessary research before the seismic survey is due to begin.
‘I am carrying out research equivalent to some aspects of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), because it had become apparent that the Marine Management Organisation was minded to reject Natural England’s advice that an EIA was required and accept the UK Government’s Nuclear Waste Service submission that an EIA was not needed in the case of the proposed marine survey,’ Deere-Jones says.
‘However, in the context that there is a widely publicised consensus that air gun acoustic surveys have negative impacts on the health of marine species, RFL believes that there is a need for an EIA of some form in order to inform the public of any scientific empirical evidence there may be on the possible negative environmental impact of the proposed survey and review the academic literature on potential alternative survey techniques,’ he adds.