Nuclear power station to be switched off for a month

Buildings associated with Sizewell B will be moved to a woodland Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sizewell B's usual outage period is being reduced from seven weeks to four - 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.

Diana Quick points out that the turbines at nuclear power stations, such as this one at Sizewell B,

The refuelling period at Sizewell B will last for a month - Credit: Archant

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. 

Robert Gunn, station director, Sizewell B, Suffolk

Robert Gunn took over as station director at Sizewell B last year - Credit: EDF Energy

"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.

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.

Most Read

The changes to this year's outage will take place with the approval of the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

EDF Energy says that safety at its nuclear power stations is its over-riding priority - but Diana Qu

Sizewell has ambitions to extend its lifespan by another 20 years - Credit: Archant

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. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter