Shut Oldbury Press Release
New plans for German/French reactor at Oldbury
Campaigners reacted angrily to news that German energy utility E.ON is planning to build a nuclear reactor on the banks of the River Severn at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. The company is negotiating a deal with National Grid to connect a 1600 megawatt reactor on the site where it is interested in buying land from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority who own the existing 450 megawatt reactor.
The cash-strapped NDA are currently selling off nuclear sites during the current government-supported pro-nuclear climate. The cost of their decommissioning project has recently escalated to £83 billion while their income has fallen due to outages at the THORP reprocessing plant in Cumbria and reactor core corrosion problems at Oldbury, one of its two nuclear power stations.
The 1600 megawatt reactor would be the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). It is currently under construction at Okiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in northern France . Both projects are entangled in construction problems where concrete foundations have been laid with the wrong mix of concrete and welds have been wrongly applied. Poor supervision has been cited in both projects (Read more).
Okiluoto is two and a half years behind schedule just two and a half years into construction and £1 billion overspent. Flamanville is six months behind schedule six months into its build.
The EPR is the subject of concern over its ability to withstand a terrorist attack from a large fully fuelled aircraft. Large and Associates, consultant engineers have published a report suggesting the designer's claims in this area may be overstated (Read more).
Spent nuclear fuel from EPRs is estimated by campaigners to be stored on site for between sixty and one hundred years (Click here to Read more, then click on "Storing up trouble...") . This is because the 'super-heated' nuclear fuel elements continue emitting heat for this length of time and there are currently no plans to send the spent fuel to Sellafield for reprocessing as happens with existing Oldbury spent fuel.
At a DBERR London conference last week on assessing new nuclear sites, the author of a government-sponsored environmental study (See note below) said that there was not enough information on the local health effects of routine radioactive discharges at estuary sites. This followed a question from Shut Oldbury campaigner Jim Duffy who demanded estuary sites such as Oldbury, Hinkley, Bradwell and others should be the subject of a national strategic decision on the health issue following epidemiological research Stop Hinkley has commissioned. A 2001 study showed breast cancer mortality was 51 percent higher than expected downstream of Oldbury and childhood leukaemia was eleven times the average in Chepstow just five miles from Oldbury on the opposite river bank.
Jim Duffy spokesman for the Shut Oldbury Campaign said: "There are too many negatives to go ahead with this plan. The risks from terrorism, long-term storage of highly radioactive fuel, local health risks, not to mention the chance of a future accident from jerry-building, are all a frightening scenario. Government plans to obtain 35 percent of our energy from renewables means we don't need nuclear. Let's put a halt to this nuclear plan at Oldbury."
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley/Shut Oldbury 07968 974805
Note: Hyder Consulting (UK) Limited study on environmental effects of nuclear sites through Govt consultation: www.berr.gov.uk/consultations/page47143.html