Shut Oldbury Press Release:
27th December 2007
Proposals to put off maintenance at Oldbury
Proposals to put off maintenance for twelve months while continuing to run ageing Oldbury nuclear power station (1) have been branded as completely outrageous by campaigners.
Reactor 2 at Oldbury suffered a series of incidents when it was restarted after two years of inspections last May. First there was an explosion in the generator/transformer which was heard in Oldbury village where a smoke plume was also visible over the power station. At a second attempt to start up the reactor in July a turbine began vibrating, again causing the reactor to shut down.
With replaced parts the reactor restarted in August. Oldbury operators then asked the safety regulator to put off an inspection shut-down date scheduled for November to the end of January as the reactor had been off-stream for two extra months.
Now the industry has requested that the agreed inspection should be put off till after the reactor's permanent closure at the end of 2008 when it will be forty years old.
A new letter (attached) from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to the Shut Oldbury Campaign states that "a key aspect of the NII decision regarding deferment of the outage is the graphite core safety case."
But Jim Duffy, spokesman for Shut Oldbury said: "Without shutting down the reactor for quite some time it's impossible to gauge whether cracks have developed in the brittle and corroded reactor core. Video cameras need to be inserted down the hundreds of fuel channels. The regulators said in June they couldn't licence the reactor till the end of 2008 (2). For Oldbury to make this request is completely outrageous and could have unthinkable consequences especially as they haven't fitted the extra safety system we have called for. Shutting it finally now is the only safe option."
"The only other method for gauging the strength or weakness of the graphite material is to drill out samples and test them. But this is a much more generalised technique from which information is extrapolated. It is not specific enough to pin-point crucial areas of damage."
Reactor 1 has been out of service since August 2006 awaiting similar test results and approval by the NII to restart. Reactor 1 is more damaged than reactor 2 so a decision is expected to take longer than that for reactor 1.
Jim Duffy, Shut Oldbury Campaign, Stop Hinkley 07968 974805
(1) Paragraph in a letter from Nuclear Installations Inspectorate dated 18th December 2007: