4 May 2011

Oldbury planned shut-down will mean radioactive releases

Here is the press release that local press seem to have ignored...

The latest Site Stakeholder Group meeting at Oldbury power-station on 20th April was told of a planned shutdown to reactor 1, on the tenth of May 2011, which will mean the release of carbon dioxide which is used to cool the core of the reactor. This will contain radioactive gases, such as tritium (radioactive hydrogen), argon, krypton and zenon, as well as radioactive carbon 14. These shutdowns occur regularly twice a year, in order to inspect the core of the reactor and make sure that it is still safe.

Photo: click to enlarge

Stroud is 16 miles downwind from Oldbury and so, given prevailing wind directions, is likely to be impacted by the release from the station. The effects will be more serious if there is rainfall on or just after 10th May.

Angela Paine, who attends the stakeholder meetings on behalf of Stroud Green Party commented: ‘Phil Sprague, the new Oldbury site manager took great pains to reassure the local public that the sort of accident which occurred at Fukushima could never happen at Oldbury, since it was a different reactor design. However, his remarks might have been more meaningful if he had compared Oldbury to Chernobyl, which also had a graphite core, like that of Oldbury nuclear power station. The extreme age (42 years) and fragility of the Oldbury graphite core are a cause of grave concern. While it is a relief that a final date for the closure of Oldbury has now been announced, we are disappointed that once again its life has been extended beyond what is safe, this time from July to December 2012, when it was due to close in 2008.’

The Green Party is the only political party that is opposed to nuclear power. Stroud Green Party opposes the building of further reactors on the Oldbury site (i). A report it commissioned last year indicated that vulnerability of population centres in the Stroud valleys to releases from Oldbury either during planned shutdowns or as a result of catastrophic accidents. It would take such contamination only around 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the centre of Stroud (see the map and table above).

(i) Gaian Economics (2010), The Right to Know: Oldbury Nuclear Expansion and Your Safety – the risks to the people of Gloucestershire (Stroud: Gaian Economics). See report here.


Anonymous said...

Analysts UBS AG say the Fukushima disaster is likely to hurt the nuclear power
industry‘s credibility more than Chernobyl which: ―affected one reactor in a totalitarian state with no
safety culture‖.

On the other hand: ―At Fukushima, four reactors have been out of control for weeks --
casting doubt on whether even an advanced economy can master nuclear safety.‖
Some experts believe the Fukushima crisis is more serious than Chernobyl because: "It's graver than
Chernobyl in that no one can predict how the situation will develop," said Atsushi Kasai, a former
senior researcher with the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute.

Philip Booth said...

The vast majority of people in Britain do not want new nuclear power stations. In a Populus poll for the Financial Times (FT) conducted between April 21st and April 25th, in answer to the question "Would you be cross if a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK was to go ahead?" 89% said yes and only 11% said no

Low Carbon Kid 9th May 2011

Joseph Langley said...

I'd just like to say that "radioactive gases, such as tritium (radioactive hydrogen), argon, krypton and zenon, as well as radioactive carbon 14" actually occur naturally as background radiation. I appreciate that the release of carbon dioxide containing these isotopes is a larger dose than normal, but the fact that this happens biannually for inspection and no one has grown a third ear suggests it's nowhere near a lethal or even intoxicating dose.
I do however agree that a 42 year old reactor is not the best plan and I'm pleased to hear there is a finalised date for decommission.

I would just like to voice my opinion that I am not against nuclear power but believe we should invest more into reactor design and storage of spent fuel. The UK is not on an active plate margin like Japan so the Fukushima disaster is not comparable to UK nuclear power stations. The possibility of nuclear power stations being a terrorist target is a major concern, but America has 104 reactors (http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/usnuclearpowerplants/), and they have had no incidents (that I know of) of terrorist threats to nuclear power stations.
A prime example of success with nuclear power is France. They generate 75% of their electricity from nuclear energy, about 17% from recycled fuel. They also reel in over €3billion annually from exporting electricity. France is the home to some of the best nuclear scientists and planners, building it's first generation 3 reactor. (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf40.html).
If we were to borrow a few French nuclear scientists we could have all these benefits. Nuclear power does NOT produce greenhouse gases, and once a long term solution is found for storage or reuse of waste, is not a bad idea at all.
I do not deny more research needs to be done, but it shouldn't be written off now as a power option for the future. I also do not object to renewable power, though I think it will work much better on small scale, with neighbourhoods buying in solar panels, wind turbines, or water turbine solutions, depending entirely on location. Motivate and provide incentives for many small scale, local projects, rather than covering vast areas in solar panels (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/18/solar-farms-cornwall-silicon-vineyards).

I'd also like a look at the full Oldbury press release/report if it's available; send me a link if you can please.

Philip Booth said...

Apols for link to Green party report not being in post - it is now above. Also at: http://www.stroudgreenparty.org.uk/index.php/reports-mainmenu-72/2480-oldbury-the-right-to-know

Mining uranium is very CO2 intensive - as is building the reactors. Renewables cut carbon now when it is needed - wait 10 years or more for nukes and we are too late to cut carbon in time to avoid some of the worst of climate change.

See also KiKK report re why releases are of concern:

Philip Booth said...

I just saw this re researchers calculating the horrendous liability costs for nuclear power. The result: it is about tens of billions of € - and ultimately paid by the citizens.

Der Spiegel (machine translated) 11th May 2011

Philip Booth said...

Here is more re the COMARE reports in The Ecologist but you need to read to the end.