Nuclear power station to be decommissioned

A nuclear power station will stop generating electricity next February after 44 years because it would not be economically viable to continue after that time, it was announced today.

The reactor at Oldbury in Gloucestershire is the oldest civilian nuclear reactor in the world and has been generating power safely since 1967.



Operators Magnox and site owners the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said Oldbury will move through a transition period before decommissioning begins.



Phil Sprague, Oldbury site director, said: "Oldbury's excellent generation history is a terrific success story, especially as the site was originally planned to close in 2008.



"As a result of excellent teamwork between Magnox and the NDA, and in conjunction with our regulators, the ONR, the site's operational life was extended until February 2012. It is a testament to the skill and dedication of the workforce who have operated and maintained the reactors to such a high standard that it has been able to continue to generate safely.



"Oldbury has provided the UK with a vital source of power for over four decades, something that everyone who has worked at the site, past and present, should be very proud of."







It had been hoped the reactor would continue to generate electricity until the end of 2012.



Both of Oldbury's reactors were scheduled to close at the end of 2008, and since that time the site has generated an additional seven terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, worth an estimated £300 million to the taxpayer and saving around six million tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.



Richard Waite, president, UK and Europe, at EnergySolutions, the owners of Magnox Ltd, said: "My congratulations go to Phil and his team who have worked so hard to deliver such a remarkable achievement.



"I am sure that when generation ends the workforce will bring the same skill and commitment to the successful and safe defueling and decommissioning of the station."



Mike Graham, national officer of the Prospect union, said: "To have been a consistent and safe source of vital electricity since 1967 is a record to be proud of and one that sends out a positive message in terms of future new nuclear plant at Oldbury.



"We recognise that the decision to bring forward the closure date was made purely on financial grounds, and congratulate staff for the diligence and expertise which has ensured the plant continued to operate past its original deadline of 2008, providing an additional £300 million to fund the NDA's decommissioning programme.



"The transition to defueling and decommissioning operations will mean an ongoing requirement for skilled staff on site. This continuity in employment will also ensure that there is a ready and willing skilled workforce in place in anticipation of the construction of the new Oldbury B plant."







Meanwhile, Unite called for an urgent debate on the UK's future energy needs, warning that the country was heading for an "energy crisis", with demand threatening to outstrip supply after 2015.



National officer Kevin Coyne said: "Sky-high energy bills are fuelling inflation but things could get even worse. The coalition Government's complacency on energy policy and innovation is driving the country towards an energy crisis.



"Power stations up and down the country are closing and the Government has shelved a world-beating, environmentally-friendly carbon storage project which would have eased the pressure. The technology would have also created thousands of jobs in the sector and its manufacturing supply chain.



"Energy costs are already sky-high and, as demand begins to outstrip supply, electricity bills will become even more expensive.



"The coalition Government has completely failed to get a grip on energy policy and displayed incompetence when it comes to supporting world-beating environmental technology which would ease the pressure. There needs to be urgent action."







A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "Oldbury power station has made a significant contribution to the UK's electricity needs for 44 years. All who have worked there should be commended for generating power safely for over four decades.



"The Government has made clear the long-term role for nuclear in the UK's energy mix and this year finalised the Nuclear National Policy Statements, which identified eight possible sites across the country for nuclear new-build, including one at Oldbury which could create thousands of new and highly-skilled jobs.



"The proposals we have set out to reform the electricity market will deliver the best deal for Britain and for consumers, getting us off the hook of relying on imported oil and gas by creating a greener, cleaner and ultimately cheaper mix of electricity sources right here in the UK, nurturing a new generation of power sources including renewables, new nuclear, and carbon capture and storage, bringing new jobs and creating new expertise in the UK workforce."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there