World’s oldest nuclear plant shuts down in Britain
OLDBURY-ON-SEVERN, Britain - ReutersThe world’s oldest running nuclear reactor shut down yesterday after 44 years of operation, starting the countdown to 2025, by when a new British nuclear station is expected to open on a site just a few hundred meters away.
Some local residents who have lived in this quaint village for decades say they had no choice when the plant was first built in the 1960s and have little prospect of preventing a new station now, given that the Oldbury site has already been shortlisted for new nuclear plants by the government.
Allan Knapp, 86, remembers when the local government started speaking in 1958 of the construction one of the world’s first civil nuclear plants on a huge field, a site next to his childhood home, on the banks of the river Severn, 12 miles north of Bristol.
“Nobody wants a nuclear plant on their doorstep,” he said. “But back then people accepted it in the end because radiation was little known about. If a power station is going to be, it is going to be.”
A joint venture of two German utilities, E.ON and RWE, plans to build a new Oldbury nuclear plant more than six times the capacity of the current station by 2025, relying on a strong government drive in favor of nuclear power to help reduce carbon emissions.
The new plant will use so-called pressurized water reactors (PWR), which require the construction of huge cooling towers containing water, a part of the project residents fear will further spoil their landscape.
Horizon, the German joint venture, said its preferred choice of cooling towers was only around 15 meters higher than the plant’s current reactor buildings, two blue and white striped cylinders that peak out between trees and fields from kilometers away.
The project is early in the planning stages, and Horizon is still far away from applying for necessary planning and environmental permits from U.K. agencies and the local government, which will give Olbury-on-Severn residents a say.