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Greens welcome Oldbury reactors shutting down

Philip Booth, Gloucestershire Green party | 30.08.2006 14:26 | Anti-militarism

Safety regulators say they have seen nothing to persuade them that Oldbury nuclear power station is safe to restart - and despite the industry spending more than £2 billion researching the safety of graphite reactor cores, both reactors are due to shut early September (i).

The Nuclear Safety Newsletter revealed the flaw in Oldbury's ongoing safety case as campaigners discovered that the nuclear industry has ploughed £2 billion into research contracts since 2004 to investigate the safety of the material which makes up reactor cores in the UK's ageing fleet of power stations.

Oldbury has the worst weight loss of any UK reactor core and an independent nuclear engineer has said this could lead to a catastrophic nuclear-fuel fire and release of radiation (ii).

Reactor two was shut down last June for an expected two month 'outage' but has still not been restarted as the graphite corrosion was found to be extreme at 34.5% in the worst affected areas. Reactor one was restarted last June after more than twelve months closure but has now reached the same corrosion level as reactor two and will also shut in early September meaning no power will then be produced at the station.

Oldbury's shut-down date is December 2008. Why waste any more millions on propping up this 38 year-old dinosaur - on grounds of safety it should close now.


(i) A publication by the nuclear regulator, says of owner British Nuclear Group's case to justify restarting Oldbury's reactor two: "some key materials testing data is still to be obtained to demonstrate that the graphite retains sufficient strength to perform its safety function... The company continues to investigate the feasabilty of alternative avenues for demonstrating the safety operations at higher graphite weight loss. The inspectorate is being kept informed of progress but no detailed safety proposals have yet been prepared."

Quotes from Nuclear Safety Newsletter, published by the Nuclear installations Inspectorate, August edition.

"Graphite Contracts 2004-2006", a list of research projects funded by the UK nuclear industry on graphite safety problems, recently obtained by Stop Hinkley from the Nuclear Installations Inpectorate under the Freedom of Information Act. 41 projects were shown with associated costs. A further 42 research projects were also listed undertaken between 1999 and 2004 but with no data on costs.

(ii) John Large, independent nuclear consultant, spoke on regional TV documentaries related to Oldbury nuclear power station on September 5th and 6th last year:
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Philip Booth, Gloucestershire Green party
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