Nuclear power station is switched off for six weeks
- Credit: Archant
Sizewell B nuclear power station is being switched off today for six weeks - so essential maintenance and refuelling can take place.
Power station workers will complete 8,000 routine maintenance and inspection tasks and replace a third of the fuel during the outage at the site, with its famous white dome on the Suffolk coast.
Major work being undertaken includes maintenance of one of the steam turbines and generators. The first turbine was turned off at 9am on Wednesday, with the second due to shut down today.
There will also be routine servicing of valves, pumps and motors, as well as a full suite of testing.
The work will mean Sizewell B can continue to supply electricity for 2.5million people for another operating cycle.
Robert Gunn, Sizewell B station director, said: “Whilst we will carry out thousands of tasks and the planned refuelling work at the station we have reduced the scope of work to limit the number of workers we need because of the pandemic.
"However, we have still been able to let local contracts and will remain focused on the important maintenance tasks that keep Sizewell B operating at the world class standard that is expected.”
Outages usually take place every 18 months.
However, the current one has been delayed due to the coronavirus crisis - meaning the station will have generated power continuously for 620 days.
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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 enhanced cleaning regimes and asked vulnerable workers to shield, with home working enabled wherever possible.
The changes to this year's outage will take place with the approval of the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
Sizewell B, which opened in 1995, employs 800 people and is said to be worth £40million to the area's economy.
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.