World’s oldest nuclear power station closes… but it will take 90 more years and £954m to clear it completely
The world’s oldest running nuclear power station was shut down today after 44 years in use – but will take another 90 years to clean up.
Staff at Oldbury Nuclear Power Station near Thornbury, South Gloucester switched off the site’s only remaining reactor – which first generated electricity in 1967.
As well as the time factor, it will also cost £954million for the 175 acre site to be completely cleared, with the final stage anticipated to take place between 2092 and 2101.
Oldbury previously had two reactors, generating 435MW every day – enough to serve a city one-and-a-half times the size of Bristol.
But reactor two was shut down last summer, with reactor one using the last available remaining fuel, which is no longer made.
Operators Magnox had hoped to keep reactor one operating until the end of this year but decided it was no longer financially viable four months ago, announcing it would close.
A new nuclear station – six times the capacity of Oldbury – is set to open just a few hundred metres away from the site in 2025.
Phil Sprague, site director at Oldbury, said staff were emotional when the plant was finally switched off at 11am.
He said: ‘Control room staff requested not to press the shutdown button, saying “I don’t want it to be me“.
‘Some of the workers got quite emotional; they have worked here for 40 years.’
There will be a period of cooling after the reactor is switched off, with permission needed from regulators before fuel can be shipped to the Sellafield plant in Cumbria.
The process is expected to take around two years, with staff figures at Oldbury expected to drop from 460 to 360 in around a year.
Staff who have been made redundant are likely to be employed at the nearby future plant, a joint venture between German companies E.ON and RWE.
Other workers will go into retirement, added Mr Sprague.
But the project is still in early planning sessions, with joint venture Horizon far from applying for planning and environmental permits from the government.
Alan Pinder, of South Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth, welcomed the closure of Oldbury.
But he added: ‘We had been promised that it would stop generating in 2008 and we were bitterly disappointed that it wasn’t closed then.
‘The decommissioning of Oldbury will take years – our great-grandchildren will be left to finally take it apart.’
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates that Oldbury will enter a ‘care and maintenance’ phase in 2027.
This is when reactors are left to cool, most structures are removed and the reactor buildings are left in a safe state requiring minimum supervision.
Final site clearance is expected to commence between 2092 and 2101.
The world’s oldest running nuclear power plant is now Beznau in Switzerland, which was switched on in 1969.
[Mochizuki thinks, Nuclear looks like science, but it’s actually run by egoistic emotion.]
This website updates the latest news about the Fukushima nuclear plant and also archives the past news from 2011. Because it's always updated and added live, articles, categories and the tags are not necessarily fitted in the latest format.
I am the writer of this website. About page remains in 2014. This is because my memory about 311 was clearer than now, 2023, and I think it can have a historical value. Now I'm living in Romania with 3 cats as an independent data scientist.
Actually, nothing has progressed in the plant since 2011. We still don't even know what is going on inside. They must keep cooling the crippled reactors by water, but additionally groundwater keeps flowing into the reactor buildings from the broken parts. This is why highly contaminated water is always produced more than it can circulate. Tepco is planning to officially discharge this water to the Pacific but Tritium is still remaining in it. They dilute this with seawater so that it is legally safe, but scientifically the same amount of radioactive tritium is contained. They say it is safe to discharge, but none of them have drunk it.