Oldbury nuclear power plant closes

The UK's oldest operating nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire has closed - although plans to build a new plant at a nearby site have already been proposed.

The Magnox Oldbury power station, which is owned by EnergySolutions and been in service since 1967, ceased operations at 11am today (February 29) after it was decided in November last year that the site’s nuclear reactors were no longer “economically viable”. Plans to close the plant in 2008 were delayed following a decision by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to extend the station’s operational life.

As a result, Magnox said that since the scheduled closure date, it has generated an additional 7.4TWhrs of electricity, saving around 3.5M tonnes of carbon emissions.

Commenting on the plant’s closure, Oldbury station site director Phil Sprague, said: “Today marks a safe and dignified end to the generation of electricity at Oldbury”, adding that the main focus in the coming months is to prepare the plant for the defueling of the reactors.

However, despite growing public opposition to nuclear, plans to build a new Oldbury nuclear plant by 2025 have been proposed by UK energy company Horizon – a joint venture between E.ON and npower. The proposal will be relying on the government continuing to favour nuclear power as a way of reducing carbon emissions.

Land adjacent to the existing Oldbury plant was acquired by Horizon through a NDA auction in April 2009 and the purchase was completed in January this year. The site has also been included on the Government’s list of sites “strategically suitable for new nuclear development”.

Horizon chief operating officer Alan Raymant, said: “Completion of our land purchase at Oldbury is another important step for our project and means that we can look forward to developing a strong and successful project in South Gloucestershire.”

It is proposing a plant which uses pressurised water reactors (PWR), which would require the construction of new cooling towers containing water. It has anticipated the plant will generate more than six times the energy capacity of the Magnox station.

Carys Matthews

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