Shut Oldbury Campaign Press Release

Oldbury shuts completely despite industry £5 million spent on graphite tests

30 August 2006

Both reactors will shortly be shut as 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 £5 million researching the safety of graphite reactor cores.

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 feasibility 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."

The Nuclear Safety Newsletter revealed the flaw in Oldbury's ongoing safety case as campaigners discovered that the nuclear industry has ploughed £5 million 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.

Built 38 years ago, Oldbury suffers the worst weight loss of any reactor core in the UK, which could lead to a catastrophic nuclear-fuel fire and release of radiation, according to comments made last year by an independent nuclear engineer. 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 a twelve month outage 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 current shutdown date is December 2008.

Station manager Joe Lamonby recently told the Site Stakeholder Group: "Our graphite safety case is going well and we hope to see reactor 2 returned to service in the near future"

Jim Duffy spokesman for the Shut Oldbury campaign said: "Despite the industry sinking so much money into propping up these old reactors and the colossal time spent in outages they still cannot prove they are safe to operate. Oldbury's bosses should give up now for safety's sake and announce its permanent closure."

Jim Duffy, Shut Oldbury Campaign, 07968 974805

Notes:

Quotes from Nuclear Safety Newsletter, published by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, August edition. http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/nsn3706.pdf  

"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 Inspectorate 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.

John Large, independent nuclear consultant, spoke on regional TV documentaries related to Oldbury nuclear power station on September 5th and 6th last year. http://www.largeassociates.com/

Remarks at Site Stakeholder Group reported in Thornbury Gazette, 11th August 2006

Correction: A press release concerning Oldbury nuclear power station sent on 30th August originally contained a mistake in the figure given for overall costs to the nuclear industry of tests and research on reactor core graphite. The figure given of £2 billion should have been £5 million.

This is arrived at by adding the individual costs of 41 research contracts between 2004 and this year: £2,713,202. From this cost the estimate of 42 similar research projects from 1999 to 2004 was extrapolated. Both added together would be £5.2 million, rounded down £5 million. Source: Data received from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate under the Freedom of Information Act. My sincere apologies for this misunderstanding.

Jim Duffy Shut Oldbury Campaign, Stop Hinkley 07968 974805

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