Greens are very concerned by reactor one being restarted after it's shut-down for over a year. Oldbury is known to have the worst graphite problem of all the first generation ‘Magnox’ reactors (i) - this can make the reactor very unstable and highlights the unreliability of nuclear power (ii).
The restarting of reactor one is particularly worrying in the light of disclosures earlier this year at a Scottish nuclear plant where cover-ups were described as having "a wreckless disregard for public health "(iii).
As Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said at the time, 'If this has been going on at Dounreay, what has been happening at other nuclear establishments in the UK?'
Oldbury is 36 years old and was meant to close 11 years ago. As we have said before, it is time to shut Oldbury completely rather than let it limp on for another four years in this expensive and possibly reckless fashion. Let us instead invest in a safe, clean future with renewables and conservation measures.
(i) Three years ago the BBC highlighted Oldburys’ weakened graphite core showing it could lead to a large release of radioactivity in an emergency. The Gloucestershire Green Party has raised concerns in the past that the graphite reactor core was predicted to become depleted in key areas by some 55%, leaving the reactor potentially unstable. Anxiety on restarting reactor one may be increased due to simultaneous graphite moderator core faults discovered in a much newer reactor at Hartlepool, where reactor core bricks have been found to have cracked, with important safety implications for all similar reactors. There are also fears that cracking might shorten the lives of nuclear stations at Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston in North Ayrshire.
(ii) "Core cracks may force shutdown of UK reactors" - New Scientist, 26 March 2005 by Rob Edwards: "Documents obtained by New Scientist under the UK's Freedom of Information Act have revealed unsuspected problems with the country's ageing advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs). Government nuclear inspectors say they have uncovered weaknesses in the safety analyses carried out by British Energy, the company that runs the reactors......British Energy has warned its shareholders that graphite cracking could kill its hopes of extending the lives of AGRs, and that there may have to be 'early closures'."
(iii) The Sunday Times, March 06, 2005: "'Reckless' nuclear plant dumps waste on beaches" by Kenny Farquharson and Mark Macaskill
Philip Booth, Press Officer Gloucestershire Green Party 01453 755451