28 Jan 2011

Oldbury update

The 220-MW Oldbury 2 reactor (see photo view from Randwick with the new reactors added) went offline recently very unexpectedly. Nuclear is not as reliable as folk would have us believe...but hey that wasn't what I was going to write about....first water use then a bit of recent stuff on the campaign to stop more nukes being built at Oldbury...

Nukes wont be built without subsidy - See my letter here.

Water use at nukes

I am the District Council's rep on the Wessex Water Customer liaison panel. I was asked a while back to see what Wessex Water's views are about the proposals for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley. How will this impact on water abstraction? Will this impact in any way on costs to customers? What issues are there around sustainability and water?

The reply I got basically said they already supply Hinkley - in fact when the first Hinkley was built a reservoir that Wessex use to supply drinking water to the local community was also built. There is also apparently a desalination on site as a back up to other cooling supplies. As it happens - compared to other areas - there is a surplus of water in that area and discussions are now being made regarding possible additional supplies. I have been promised a more detailed reply but not had it yet. See also more re the nuclear industry's use of water by Radiation Free Lakeland campaigner, Marianne Birkby here.

Tory minister visits Oldbury

The Energy minister Charles Hendry said recently that land next to the River Severn was appropriate for a new generation of nuclear reactors during a visit to the site near Thornbury (see news report here). He spent several hours at the existing Oldbury atomic station to meet those who run the ageing plant's two reactors and to look across mist- shrouded farmland in Shepperdine where energy company Horizon wants up to three more. His visit came a day after he met representatives from eight sites around the country which are being considered for new nuclear stations to help meet Britain's energy demands.

The Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy responded saying: "So very disappointing to read that the Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, still considers the site appropriate despite the fact that so many local people and councils disagree with him. Clearly he is simply not listening to anything we, our local councils and our MP have said to DECC. It seems he is only interested in the views of the pro-nuclear people at the power station. Clearly he didn’t take the trouble to look at the view from the villages surrounding the site and those above that look down on the site. If he had gone to Hill, for example, he might not have been so insensitive! The village of Oldbury, which is presumably the only village he travelled close enough to, will not even see the new site as it will be hidden behind the existing power station! Unless of course Horizon revert to the gravity towers, in which case they too will be visibly affected."

Consultation on National Policy Statements

Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy has responded to the reconsultation on National Policy Statements. Click on the link for full comments but here is a quote: "We were very surprised that Oldbury remained on the list of potential sites, when Braystones, Kirksanton and Dungeness were all removed for reasons that included (and, in the case of Dungeness, was exclusively) the adverse impact on the environment and landscape. Oldbury/ Shepperdine is an estuarine site with limited access to water for cooling the reactor. Accordingly, it is the only one of the nominated sites which must have cooling towers, and is therefore by far the largest and most intrusive of all the planned developments. The Severn Estuary and the countryside which overlooks it are both naturally beautiful and internationally important for their biodiversity. It is indefensible to put the largest and ugliest of the new nuclear builds in one of the most attractive and sensitive localities on the list, especially when the generating capacity can be provided at alternative sites that are less significant and less vulnerable, and that do not need cooling towers. Our detailed concerns, and the evidence to support them, are laid out below. The numbers in parentheses refer to paragraphs in the revised Draft NPS for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6). These concerns amplify the views which we expressed in our initial response to the original Draft NPS, and take account of the revisions made by the Government. We remain deeply concerned about several generic issues which we highlighted in our earlier response. These include the uncertain risks of storing radioactive waste on site (potentially for up to 160 years); the destruction of local communities; and the disruption caused by building and the influx of the construction workforce. However, these arguments apply to all of the nominated sites. Instead, we focus here on the specific factors that make Oldbury uniquely unsuitable for a new nuclear development based around either of the reactors that were recently approved in the Generic Design Assessment process."

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