Nuclear power station runs without safety device

18th June 2007
In the News
A nuclear reactor at Oldbury power station in Gloucestershire was allowed to operate despite the fact it had not been fitted with a crucial internal safety system which would shut down the reactor in the case of a fire.

The Independent on Sunday received documents released under the Freedom of Information act which showed that the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate, Britain's nuclear watchdog, judged Oldbury to be unsafe for operation during the next 18 months, but operation was allowed to continue anyway.

Running the reactor without the necessary 'failed fuel trip system' increeased the chances of a potentially devastating nuclear fuel fire to 1 in 1000; a risk which nuclear expert Dr. John Large told the IoS was 'unacceptably high'.

The documents show that pressure was put on the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate by power station operator British Nuclear Group, which condemned the recommended delay as 'disproportionate'.

The power station is now closed indefinitely, after a non-nuclear fire broke out elsewhere in the facility.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist June 2007

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