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Oldbury nuclear power station closes after 44 years' operation

The world’s oldest operating nuclear power station, Oldbury near Bristol, stopped producing electricity yesterday morning after 44 years of operation.

Since it opened in 1967, Oldbury’s twin reactors have generated 137.5TWh of electricity — enough to power 1M homes for over 20 years. 

The closure marks the start of preparations getting underway to start the decommissioning process, which will, over decades, include removal of the spent fuel, management of the waste and eventual demolition of the buildings. 

Reactor One’s shutdown yesterday followed the closure last June of Reactor Two. Originally scheduled to stop generating in 2008, the site’s owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), took the decision to extend Oldbury’s operating life following reviews with the regulators. The site is operated by Magnox, which is owned by EnergySolutions. 

Oldbury is one of 11 nuclear power stations in the UK that were based on the Magnox design, developed during the post-war years and the first in the world to generate electricity on a commercial scale. Ten are now closed and in various stages of decommissioning, with only Wylfa on Anglesey still operating.  

The decision to shut down Reactor One was taken in November 2011 in conjunction with the regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, after a review concluded that continued operation would no longer be economically viable.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Oldbury and Wylfa were the only Magnox stations with prestressed pressure vessels. There will be few at Sir Robert McAlpine's today that recall the difficult setting-out of the helical ducts by Don Weatherseed and his team.

    The foundations of the reactors were designed by Soil Mechanics Ltd and were not without their problems - see Alan Meigh's Rankine Lecture.

    I trust that the Engineers designing the reactors for the proposed new power station will spare the time to study what was done between 1960 and 1967. And perhaps a thought for those of us involved at the time. That research will save them time and also considerable expense!

    Brian Corbett, FICE

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