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   Inside Out - West: Monday September 5, 2005


Oldbury Nuclear Power Station
Safety first - Oldbury Nuclear Power Station

Inside Out West investigates Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, the new generation of British weightlifters, and the 'Strawberry line' cycle route which was once a railway line.

Oldbury Nuclear Power Station

How safe is Oldbury Nuclear Power Station?

The Gloucestershire plant has already been going for 12 years longer than planned so is there anything to worry about?

Inside Out West has uncovered documents that raise fresh concerns about the continued operation of the ageing Oldbury Nuclear Power Station on the banks of the River Severn.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the programme team has obtained a series of letters about the state of the reactor's graphite core.

They show that over time the graphite blocks have lost more than a third of their weight, prompting new fears about their strength.

Independent nuclear expert John Large says, "These documents represent a compromise on nuclear safety.

"Some of these plants are now 30 to 40 years old. Clearly they were designed for a much shorter life than what BNFL are eking them out to be.

"They were designed for a 30 year life. Now they are eking them out to 40 plus years. That’s where the compromise is."

But bosses at the power station claim they carry out regular testing to ensure safety isn't being compromised.

Joe Lamonby, the Manager of the station, says, "We’ve got no evidence that any of the graphite is shifting.

"We’re talking about a structure here of 50,000 bricks, about 2000 tonnes. We regularly inspect it. We’ve got no evidence of any cracks in the reactor."

The power station is due to be decommissioned in 2008, by which time it will have been in operation for 15 years more than originally planned.

Heavy weights


Career highlights:

Nine times British Weight Lifting Champion.

Ten times British Power Lifting Champion.

Five times World Power Lifting Champion.

Eight World Masters Power Lifting Records - 1999- 2002.

Four consecutive Gold Medals at the Commonwealth Games.

Represented Britain in three Olympic Games: Mexico 1968, Munich 1972, Montreal 1976.

Current World Masters Power Lifting Champion.

Weightlifting legend Precious McKenzie has returned to Bristol to nurture an exciting new talent.

Pint sized Precious was said to be the Queen's favourite athlete, winning four consecutive gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

He won his third Gold Medal at the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games, and his fourth consecutive Gold Medal in Edmonton, Canada.

Now, a new star is emerging from the same gym in Bristol, hoping to follow in his footsteps.

Bradley Burrowes is already the British number one.

And, with the support of Precious, he's hoping that he too can take gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Strawberry line

Inside Out West graphic

For almost a century, the 'Strawberry line' carried fruit and passengers from Cheddar over the Mendips and across the Somerset Levels to join the main line at Yatton.

Now there's a fantastic cycle route and footpath which follows the route of the old railway.

Tessa Dunlop has been exploring the path, enjoying a basket full of strawberries along the way.

See also ...

Inside Out: West

On the rest of Inside Out

On (Oldbury Nuclear Power Station)

On the rest of the web
Health and Safety Executive
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Nuclear Industry Association
British Weight Lifters Association

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