Health experts invited to answer Oldbury nuclear cancer fears

Thursday, January 22, 2009, Bristol Evening Post

Health experts will be invited to South Gloucestershire answer fears that cancer cases could be linked to Oldbury nuclear power station.

Oldbury site director Joe Lamonby refuted the claims, made at a community event in Tortworth, saying there was no evidence of more cases of the disease in the area.

He said studies making such allegations had not come from reputable sources and there was no reason to believe there was any increased level of cancer in areas surrounding the station, which is near Thornbury.

John Grey, who has an organic farm close to the complex in Shepperdine, told the meeting he was worried that cases of the disease in areas such as nearby Hill could be linked to the nuclear plant.

Mr Grey said he was opposed to nuclear power and said he did not want another atomic plant to be built nearby

The Government is supporting plans for a new generation of nuclear stations and areas around old plants such as Oldbury are seen as likely spots for the new ones.

Mr Grey said: "I really dread another power station coming to the Oldbury and Shepperdine area.

"It's a dangerous power."

Alan Pinder, of South Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth, said he did not have any evidence of a cancer problem related to the site.

But said there were concerns that it was possible.

Malcolm Lynden, chairman of the Oldbury Power Station Site Stakeholder Group, pledged to invite Dr Julia Verne, director of the South West Public Health Observatory, and other health professionals to the next meeting of the group so they could answer questions and address concerns raised.

Mr Pinder also voiced his opposition to the recent decision to allow Oldbury to continue generating power for another two years.

The station should have closed last month after 40 years of operating but after a long assessment by nuclear inspectors it was last month given the all-clear to remain open.

A delay in the defuelling schedule meant there was enough fuel on site to last until 2011, provided regulators were satisfied it was safe to do so.

Anti-nuclear campaigners had pressed for the plant to close, citing questions over the safety of the graphite core of its two rectors.

But Mr Lamonby said no defects had been found in the cores and as a result, reactor one would continue in use for 22 months, while reactor two would run for nine months.

Reactor one has been subject to a long shutdown while its core was tested but is set to return to operation soon.

Mr Lamonby said: "Oldbury has a terrific safety record. There have been no significant events at the station for over 40 years and the plant and equipment are in very good condition."

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Page Updated 23-Jan-2009