NUCLEAR BOSSES DEFEND REOPENING

Bristol Evening Post, 19 June 2007

Bosses of Oldbury nuclear power station have defended last month's decision to restart the station's No 2 nuclear reactor and resume generating electricity after a two-year break.

But the station was forced to shut down again just 10 days later when there was a fire in a generator away from the nuclear side of the station.

Staff said plans to bring the station back into use by the end of next month were still going ahead despite claims by anti-nuclear campaigners that the station was not safe.

They denied claims that safety of had been compromised and the restart had the full backing of the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate (NII).

The site's second reactor was taken out of commission two years ago for safety checks on its graphite core and the first reactor was closed 12 months ago for similar safety checks.

The station is also hoping to bring reactor one back into use as soon as the safety checks have been completed and approved by the NII.

Anti-nuclear campaigners from Shut Oldbury group said documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act said the reactor had not been fitted with a safety alarm. But the NII agreed to a request from the British Nuclear Group that it should not delay the restart of the station while the alarm was being fitted.

Saronne Postans, for Oldbury Power Station, said: "Reactor 2 was re-started in May following the approval of our graphite safety case by the industry watchdog.

"The safety case was robust and the reactor would not have been granted consent to re-start if the NII did not think that it was safe to do so.

"At the end of May one of Oldbury's electrical transformers suffered a small fire which resulted in the shut down of Reactor 2. Work is ongoing to replace the transformer and it is hoped that the station will be producing electricity again by the end of July.

"Work is still ongoing with the Reactor 1 safety case. This has been submitted to the NII, who are now undertaking their assessment before reaching a decision."

The station, which was opened by former Bristol MP Tony Benn, was due to close after 30 years but its life was extended by a further 10 years.

It will now be shut down at the end of next year, with the loss of 400 jobs, before undergoing a decommissioning programme to remove all nuclear contaminated material from the site.

Tony Harding, South Gloucestershire spokesman for Friends of the Earth and a supporter of Shut Oldbury, said: "The expert's report was far more damming of Oldbury than we originally thought. There are even more concerns about the state of both of the reactors."

Mr Harding added they would continue to oppose the re-starting of the twin reactors because the risk for just 18 months of operating life was not worth it.

 

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