Visitor centres at nuke plants on ice

VISITOR centres at Suffolk's two nuclear power stations are to be permanently mothballed, mainly as a result of the increased security fears following the terrorist attack on New York.

VISITOR centres at Suffolk's two nuclear power stations are to be permanently mothballed, mainly as a result of the increased security fears following the terrorist attack on New York.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including school pupils from all over East Anglia, have visited the Sizewell A and B stations over the past quarter of a century, many of them also participating in tours of the plants.

Up until two years ago the two stations shared a purpose-built and highly interactive visitors centre on the B site where tourists and other members of the public could just drop-in.

When Sizewell A passed in to the hands of British Nuclear Fuels (BNF), plans were drawn up for a separate visitor centre on that site.


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However, neither power station has been accepting public visits since the September 11 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.

Now decisions have been taken to permanently mothball the centres.

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Both BNF and British Energy, which owns the B station, are to concentrate their community relations policy on an "outreach" policy – sending speakers and exhibitions into schools and other venues.

The decisions were reached partly because of terrorism fears but also because there has been a long-term decline in the number of visitors.

Many schools are finding it increasingly difficult to take children out for visits due to the stricter guidelines regarding contact with adults outside the educational environment.

A Government report published last year called managing the Nuclear Legacy also called for more proactive work with local communities.

Robin Thornton, Sizewell A spokesman, said the emphasis was being changed from "come to see us" to "we'll come to see you".

"We are determined we will not lessen our commitment to the community," he said.

John McNamara, Sizewell B spokesman, said the site visitors' centre had been established in the late 1980s when interest in the power station, Britain's first pressurised water reactor, was at its height.

"A whole generation of East Anglian schoolchildren had been round Sizewell B," he said.

The visitors centre, with its once "cutting edge" interactive displays, had been reaching the end of its working life and had been closed since the September 11 attacks.

"It is very sad but it reflects the world situation," Mr McNamara added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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