Oldbury closes- World’s oldest operating nuclear plant shuts down

The world’s oldest operating nuclear plant shut today. The Oldbury twin reactor plant, near Bristol, was shut in conjunction with the regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, after a review […]

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By Tom Gibson

The world’s oldest operating nuclear plant shut today. The Oldbury twin reactor plant, near Bristol, was shut in conjunction with the regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, after a review concluded that continued operation would no longer be economically viable.

The plant was one of 11 nuclear power stations in the UK that were based on the pioneering Magnox design developed during the post-war years and has operated safely for 44 years producing 137.5 TWh of electricity.

Dr Phil Sprague, Oldbury Site Director said: “Oldbury has been a terrific success story for the nuclear industry. We have generated safe, carbon free electricity for over 44 years which is a remarkable achievement when you consider that the original plant design life was just 25 years.

“The plant has had a number of enhancements over the years, but this success story is largely due to the excellence of the staff that have operated the plant for those 44 years… Today marks a safe and dignified end to the generation of electricity at Oldbury.”

This isn’t the end for nuclear in Oldbury however. Horizon Nuclear Power, an outfit formed by energy firms E.On and RWE, hope to build a new and even bigger 6GW power station next to the existing reactor building in the next decade. Last month Horizon bought the land from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

However the plans have not been welcomed by the local community. Anti-nuclear campaigner Reg Illingworth from nearby Shepperdine said: “I’m happy to see Oldbury – the oldest civil nuclear power station- is closing finally… it’s long overdue, both for Oldbury and for all nuclear facilities around the world. Nuclear power is too costly – on many levels – it’s dangerous, dirty and expensive and it’s time the UK government acknowledged this.”

During its lifetime, Oldbury has starred in several television shows, including Doctor Who and Blake 7, and even featured on Top of the Pops when the group Slade recorded a performance for the show on the pile cap.