Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Oldbury Nuclear Power station will continue running next year

OLDBURY nuclear power station is set to continue operating into next year despite previous plans to shut it down within months, it has emerged.

Officials are requesting a "fairly short" extension to its lifespan, which would generate cash that could be off-set against a £4 billion hole in the national decommissioning budget revealed yesterday by the Government.

Oldbury was due to be decommissioned in 2008 after operating for 41 years but was then given permission to run until this year.

Now the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency, which owns the atomic plant near Thornbury, has revealed it wants the end date to be extended again, a decision that will be taken by an independent regulator.

A spokesman for the NDA said: "It's providing such valuable electricity we can sell on the market. Oldbury is making us money. We would like it to operate a little bit longer."

Operators Magnox North said the plant generated 2.7 terawatts of power during the year to the end of March – enough to power two million homes. Magnox North managing director, Neil Baldwin, said: "The
considerable revenue made from this exceptional generation performance is extremely valuable in funding the ongoing decommissioning and clean-up of the country's civil nuclear legacy."

But what they fail to say is that Oldbury's graphite (think pencils) core is seriously eroded. The longer the nuclear power station continues to function, the more dangerous the core becomes and the more likely it is to fail, resulting in uncontrollable fire with massive release of radioactivity.

Why has the nuclear regulator decided to gamble with the health of future generations, just in order to offset a small part of the decommissioning clean-up costs? In the long run the revenue generated by Oldbury nuclear power station will do little to fill the decommissioning budget hole, which is set to rise exponentially over the next few decades.

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