Nuclear power station to be switched off for a month
- Credit: Archant
Sizewell B nuclear power station is to be switched off for a month for refuelling and essential maintenance.
However, its usual seven-week outage is being reduced to four weeks, to minimise the number of extra staff needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nuclear power stations have regular outages every couple of years or so to allow for maintenance, with the last one at Sizewell B taking place in 2019.
Sizewell B, which began generating power in 1995, had been due to start its latest outage on March 19.
However EDF Energy, which runs the site, has delayed the start of the current refuelling period until April 16 - by which time the station will have generated power continuously for 620 days.
Robert Gunn, Sizewell B station director, said: “Safety is our number one priority as always and we have taken the decision to safely delay this work at Sizewell to protect our local communities and workers needed on the site during the ongoing pandemic.
"We have brought in robust measures as part of our tried and tested emergency planning arrangements to ensure this work is undertaken and completed with the highest regard for public safely.”
Instead of the usual 1,200 additional contractors on site during an outage period, this time there will be fewer than 750.
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A test facility has been established for all staff, with shift patterns designed to halve the number of workers who would typically be on site at any one time.
It has also reduced non-essential footfall on the site, as well as brought in an enhanced cleaning regimes and asked vulnerable workers to shield, with home working enabled wherever possible.
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The changes to this year's outage will take place with the approval of the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
Sizewell B employs 800 people and is said to be worth £40million to the area's economy, powering more than 60m homes since opening in 1995.
It plans extend its current 40-year lifespan by another 20 years, saying that nuclear will be an important part of the energy mix as the need for electricity continues to soar.