N-POWER STATIONS MOVE IS WELCOME

Bristol Evening Post, 10 October 2005

Environmental campaigners have welcomed moves to speed up decommissioning of the old-style Magnox nuclear power stations in Oldbury-on- Severn and Berkeley. But members of the Green Party said they were worried it could lead to a new generation of nuclear power plants being built on the decommissioned sites.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which took over ownership of Oldbury power station, near Thornbury, the old Berkeley plant and 18 other civil nuclear sites earlier this year, is keen to speed up the decommissioning and clean-up process.

It said the time required to decommission Oldbury, after it stops generating power in 2008, could be cut drastically to just 25 years instead of the 110 years currently proposed.

Berkeley power station was shut down in 1989 and final site clearance had been expected in 2083. Now the NDA believes that could be achieved before 2030. That would take the problem of clearing sites away from future generations.

Philip Booth, spokesman for the Stroud District Green Party, said: "Some people have expressed concerns at plans to dismantle the sites by 2030 instead of leaving them for 100 years or more. But evidence from other countries and independent nuclear experts suggest it is better to use robots in our own generation than leave the same job for our great- grandchildren to solve and pay for, when they didn't even benefit from the electricity. Waiting means there are also continuing problems of safety, security and storage of radioactive waste."

But Mr Booth said his party would be opposed to the move if the plan involved incineration of radioactive waste, even low-level waste. He said it was also wary that a quicker clear-up could result in plans to build bigger reactors on the sites. He said: "The enormous cost of decommissioning these nuclear power stations reflects the folly of the nuclear industry."

The current cost of decommissioning Oldbury is £1.4 billion while the eventual cost of decommissioning Berkeley is estimated to be £823 million.

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