Oldbury Nuclear Power Station
|Oldbury Nuclear Power Station|
|Country||England, United Kingdom|
|Owner(s)||Nuclear Decommissioning Authority|
|Nuclear power station|
|Reactor type||Magnox gas cooled|
|Reactor supplier||The Nuclear Power Group|
|Make and model||Associated Electrical Industries
C. A. Parsons and Company
|Units decommissioned||2 X 217 MW|
Oldbury nuclear power station is a closed nuclear power station located on the south bank of the River Severn close to the village of Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire, England. It was operated by Magnox Limited on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). Oldbury is one of four stations located close to the mouth of the River Severn and the Bristol Channel, the others being Berkeley, Hinkley Point A, and Hinkley Point B.
Opened in 1967, it had two Magnox reactors producing 424 megawatts (MWe) in total – enough electricity on a typical day to serve an urban area twice the size of Bristol. Reactor 1 went critical on 18 September 1967 and first generated electricity on 9 November 1967, Reactor 2 started generating electricity in April 1968.
The construction was undertaken by a consortium known as The Nuclear Power Group ('TNPG'). The reactors were supplied by TNPG and the turbines by AEI and C. A. Parsons & Co. The main civil engineering contractor was Sir Robert McAlpine. Construction on site began in 1961.
The design net power output of the station was 626 MWe, but due to steel corrosion problems from the hot carbon dioxide coolant within the reactor, operating temperature had to be reduced soon after operation started causing a large drop in power output. Initially power output was set at 424 MWe, dropping to 400MWe by 1973. Then as remedial measures were adopted power was progressively increased to 434 MWe by 1983 with a gas outlet temperature of 365 °C (689 °F), compared to the 412 °C (774 °F) design temperature, which was maintained as the normal operational output.
The station was originally to be decommissioned at the end of 2008, however continued use was licensed in various stages; an additional two and a half years in the case of reactor 2, and 4 years for reactor 1. 
On 30 May 2007, only a few days after reopening after safety checks, the power station was shut down as part of standard emergency procedure when a fire broke out on one of the generator transformer HV bushings. No-one was injured in the fire and no radiation was released. Information suggests an insulator overheated causing it to fail. Minor damage ensued resulting in a standard shutdown. All emergency procedures were commenced and by 11:30am the situation was stabilised. The power station resumed production for a few days in June then shut down again. Production eventually resumed on 24 August 2007, at which point it had only produced electricity for eight days since August 2006.
On 17 March 2011 at 10:40, Reactor 2 was automatically shut down after an electrical problem. Magnox stated that workers had been carrying out routine maintenance when a small relay overheated (this failure caused the turbine to shut down). Their spokesman went on to say "Because the turbine tripped the steam produced in the boilers couldn't be sent to the turbine as it would normally and so was released through relief valves on top of the building." and "To reduce the amount of steam being produced, and in accordance with expectations, the reactor automatically tripped and was safely shut down."
On 14 July 2011, Reactor 1 was automatically shut down after 'problems with the refuelling machinery.' Large plumes of steam could be seen rising from the power station, concerning nearby residents. The incident came a week after the number 2 reactor was permanently shut down after its 43-year life because it had 'reached the end of its operational life'.
The power station silt lagoons
The silt lagoons at Oldbury power station are used as a high tide roosting site by birds which feed on the Severn Estuary. Between 1979 and 2005, 199 bird species were recorded at the site. This included a number of vagrants: a Green-winged Teal in January 2001, a Ring-necked Duck in April and May 2000, a Black-winged Stilt in May 1997, a Kentish Plover in August 1993, a Semipalmated Sandpiper in August 1990, a Temminck's Stint in April 1984, a Pectoral Sandpiper in September 1989, a Broad-billed Sandpiper in August 1983, a Ring-billed Gull in October 1994, and a Richard's Pipit in October 1996.
Future nuclear plant plans
Horizon Nuclear Power, an E.ON and RWE joint venture, announced in 2009 intentions to install up to 3,300 MWe of new nuclear plant at Oldbury. Horizon is considering building up to either two 1,650 MWe Areva EPR reactors, or three 1,100 MWe Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. As the Severn estuary water supply would be inadequate to cool these larger reactors, cooling towers would be built.
On 18 October 2010 the British government announced that Oldbury was one of the eight sites it considered suitable for future nuclear power stations.
On 29 March 2012 E.ON and RWE npower announced that their plans to build the new power station had been shelved.
In popular culture
Oldbury was used as a filming location for the Doctor Who serial, The Hand of Fear. Filming at Oldbury took place in 1976. On one occasion, long running music show Top of the Pops was even filmed inside one of the reactor buildings. The power station also appeared in several episodes of Blake's 7.
- Nuclear power in the United Kingdom
- Energy policy of the United Kingdom
- Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom
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