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Oldbury Nuclear Power Station
Oldbury-upon-Severn, Gloucestershire, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  1961 - 1968
era  Modern  |  category  Power Generation  |  reference  ST605946
ICE reference number  HEW 1180
Oldbury is the longest-serving nuclear power station in Britain. It has an exemplary safety record and can produce enough electricity to serve the combined populations of Bristol and Bath. Oldbury was also the first nuclear power station in the country to have pressure vessels made of pre-stressed concrete rather than steel.
Oldbury has twin Magnox reactors, each containing 26,400 fuel rods and a graphite core. Reactor construction was completed in May 1962. Reactor 1 went critical in August 1967 and first generated electricity on 7th November 1967. Reactor 2 achieved criticality in December 1967 and began electricity generation on 6th April 1968.
The station was commissioned in 1968 and was opened officially on 10th June 1969 by Tony Benn MP, then Secretary of State for Industry.
The carbon dioxide used to cool the reactor cores, and carry heat to the boilers, also corroded some of the assembly bolts. The solution was to decrease the core temperature, thereby slowing the corrosion but reducing the output. The reactors were designed to produce 600MW of electricity, after the 'derating' it is 434MW on a typical day
The power station is located 24km north of Bristol on the south side of the River Severn, which provides the necessary cooling water. It is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and managed by Magnox North Ltd.
Over the years, low hazard waste products from showers, laundry and oil separators — known as sludge — have been stored on site. Traditionally, waste is packed into drums and placed inside rectangular ISO containers. A method for encapsulating the sludge in concrete and pouring the mix directly into an ISO container has been developed here, saving space and cutting both costs and processing time. The waste is now being transported to the Low Level Waste Repository in Cumbria.
A generator in the non-nuclear part of the plant overheated and caught fire on 30th May 2007. The reactors were shut down as a precaution, although there was no release of radioactivity and the reactors resumed power generation in August 2007.
Oldbury was expected to stop generating electricity at the end of 2008 but this was extended to 2009. Now the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has indicated that the reactors can stay in use up to the end of 2010 because the graphite bricks in the reactor cores are undamaged.
Once generating stops, nuclear fuel will be removed progressively from the reactors and sent to Sellafield for treatment. This process will take three years, and will be followed by decommissioning.
On 9th November 2009, the government announced their intention to build 10 new nuclear power stations. Oldbury was one of the sites selected. Part of the 48 hectare site has been acquired already by Horizon Nuclear Power, an equal joint venture between E.ON and RWE. Drilling of 22 site exploration boreholes 40-80m deep began in August 2009.
The first new reactor could achieve criticality as early as 2018.
Main contractor: McAlpine
Turbines and generators: Assoc. Electric Industries, and C.A. Parsons & Co
Reactor supply: The Nuclear Power Group
Boreholes (2009): Hydrock
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Going Critical — An Unofficial History of British Nuclear Power"
by Walter C. Patterson, Paladin Books, 1985
www.magnoxnorthsites.com
www.nce.co.uk
http://www.nea.fr
reference sources   CEH W&W
Location

Oldbury Nuclear Power Station