Didcot power station: Six-month wait 'unacceptable'

Didcot Power Station collapse Image copyright Thames Valley Police
Image caption About 20,000 tonnes of material still needs to be sifted through at the site

The ongoing wait to recover the bodies of three men killed in the Didcot power station collapse six months ago is "unacceptable", politicians say.

The search for the missing men resumed last month after the demolition of the remaining section of the boiler house.

Ken Cresswell, 57, John Shaw, 61, and Chris Huxtable, 34, remain trapped under the rubble since 23 February. Michael Collings, 53, was found later.

Mayor of Didcot Steve Connel said the families "should be allowed to mourn".

"I understand that you have to protect those people who are going in and keep them safe, but at the same time six months is unacceptable," he said.

He added that ideas were being considered for a memorial to the four workers, such as renaming roads or building a permanent memorial on a roundabout.

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Media captionNadine Morgan says she hopes recovery team get her dad out soon

Ed Vaizey, Conservative MP for Wantage, has also written to the chairman of RWE Npower suggesting the company funds any memorial.

Mr Huxtable's daughter, Nadine Morgan, said: "It's not nice to think he's still under there after six months. They should get him out, and hopefully they'll get him out soon."

His sister, Natallie Huxtable, said: "I don't think enough is being done, we just need some closure now."

Sarah Champion, Labour MP from Rotherham, represents two of the missing men's families and has previously called the delay "a national scandal".

She said: "The families have had to fight to keep the recovery on track, they should never have been forced into this position. They are as much victims of this disaster as their men who died.

"It is completely unacceptable that these men, carrying out their work in good faith, have paid with their lives."

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Media captionThe boiler house at the power station was brought down on 17 July

Ken Cresswell and John Shaw were both from Rotherham, while Chris Huxtable was from Swansea.

An RWE Npower spokesman said contractors were "working seven days a week, 12 hours a day" and had cleared about half the debris pile.

She added: "Some parts of the structure have proven challenging to remove, largely due to the way in which the beams have been entangled within the debris pile.

"If the demolition of the boiler house had gone to plan it would have taken the specialist demolition contractor at least six months to process the debris and clear the complete area.

"We understand how difficult the delay in recovering the men must be for their families and are fully committed to do everything we can."

Didcot power station

Image caption The Didcot Power Station site layout in 2014

Coal-fired Didcot A power station was turned off in 2013, after 43 years in service.

It included six cooling towers, measuring 375ft (114m) in height, of which three were demolished in the early hours of 27 July 2014.

A gas-burning power station - known as Didcot B - opened in 1997 on the site and continues to operate.

A major fire was declared at Didcot B in October 2014, with 20 fire crews sent to tackle the blaze at its peak. The cause was later confirmed as an electrical fault.

Further demolition work took place at Didcot A, until a major incident was declared on 23 February when part of a the boiler house collapsed, killing four demolition workers.

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