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.