New nuclear reactor could be built in Oldbury

By Alex Ross, Thornbury Gazette, 1st May 2008

OLDBURY could be the site for a new £2.8billion nuclear reactor.

America-based Energy Solutions has teamed up with Japanese company Toshiba-Westinghouse to table a bid to construct and operate the power station.

The reactor would be built on 51 hectares of Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) land.

It comes after the government announced its support for the nuclear option to meet Britain 's future power needs.

It is said to be welcoming bids from private energy companies to fund and build the plants.

The choice to build a new power station at Oldbury, however, has come as a surprise after it was ranked 11th in a list of 14 preferred sites.

Independent consultants drew up the list based on the criteria that existing nuclear facilities were the most suitable for development owing to existing infrastructure.

They also felt that local communities had become accustomed to having a nuclear site as a neighbour.

Their report said that Oldbury would be "potentially feasible" but also noted important barriers that would need to be overcome, including cooling difficulties and environmental sensitivity.

Oldbury's current nuclear reactor, which has been operating for 40 years and is run by Magnox, is to be decommissioned from service at the end of this year.

Plans for the new power station have divided opinion.

Shut Oldbury spokesman Jim Duffy hit out at the consortium's plan to use an "unproven nuclear reactor".

Mr Duffy said: "It's a great matter of concern that bids are going in to build an untested reactor with an odd and potentially dangerous, money-saving design.

"The regulators admit they are badly understaffed so it's doubtful they will have the resources to fully test and licence these reactor designs in such a short period."

But members of the Oldbury site stakeholder group say they do not fear a new reactor near their homes.

Richard Gray, of Shepperdine Road , said: "A nuclear power station is not necessarily a bad neighbour to a community.

"Magnox has introduced positive infrastructure, such as better roads, and always supported the community.

"I've grown up and lived here for over 30 years with the power station on my doorstep, it's no big hassle.

"The only thing I can complain about is the station can be an eyesore. I'd hope a new station is built further back on the land from homes."

No one from the companies behind the bid was available for comment.

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Page Updated 01-May-2008