Sizewell: N-plant bosses hand in proposals for emergency response centre

N-PLANT bosses have handed in their proposals to build an emergency response centre (ERC) on the Suffolk coast for use in the event of nuclear fallout or disaster.

EDF Energy has handed a planning application to Suffolk Coastal District Council for a brownfield site at the Sizewell B railhead, on the outskirts of Leiston,

The 1,500sq m scheme, which should cost no more to build than an industrial warehouse, would house back-up plant and equipment storage and office space associated with the company’s nuclear emergency arrangements.

The centre is one of a number of enhancements identified following an independent review into the UK nuclear facilities by the Office of Nuclear Regulation after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan last March.

Dr Mike Weightman, who led the review, concluded that UK facilities had “no fundamental weaknesses” but, following recommendations and its own safety study, EDF Energy identified areas of improvement to protect against unpredictable natural events.

If given the green light it is hoped the facility will be fully operational by the spring of 2014, with construction beginning later this year.

Ahead of finalising its plans EDF Energy held an informal public consultation, including a two-day public exhibition at Sizewell Sports and Social Club.

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Speaking at the event Martin Cubitt, technical and safety manager at Sizewell B, said: “Although our record and the recent reviews all show how safe Sizewell B power station is, we feel it is prudent to invest in providing an additional layer of resilience to our emergency response capabilities.”

Almost 100 people attended - with 44 of these completing a feedback survey on the ERC.

EDF Energy has designed the building to minimise its visual impact on the nearby landscape, with proposals including putting a green sedum roof on the facility.

A further period of statutory consultation will now take place, where people can make comments to Suffolk Coastal District Council.