Letter to the Hinkley Site Stakeholder Group - 8 June 2020
Monday 8 June 2020
Dear SSG Member
I hope you are staying safe during these extraordinary times. As a member of the community, I am writing to provide you with an update of recent developments at Hinkley Point B power station.
In January, Hinkley Point B put its pandemic response plans into place as a precautionary measure to the growing COVID-19 threat. Since then we have been working tirelessly with the company and the trade unions to keep everybody safe and protect the site’s emergency arrangements.
As well as following Government advice and guidance, you will be pleased to hear the station has implemented a large number of additional preventative countermeasures to protect the workforce. These include:
- Introducing remote working and split shift arrangements in a safe and controlled way, which has reduced the overall daily footfall on the site by over 50%
- Determining the level of risk associated with our vulnerable and high-risk employees and bringing in appropriate measures to support them
- Increasing hygiene and cleaning arrangements in high footfall areas and introducing social distancing measures across the site
- The installation of thermographic cameras at the entrance and the purchase of COVID-19 immunity test kits
This list above is by no means exhaustive, and just gives you a flavour of some of the things we are doing to keep everyone safe. In addition, EDF has launched a new internal well-being programme called Alongside You to support employees and their loved ones during these difficult times. These sudden changes to both work and personal lives can be overwhelming, and each individual will be managing this in different ways.
Looking ahead, we are working with the trade unions to establish a ‘new normal’ working environment, which will include increasing occupancy at the site over the coming weeks. We will of course do this with safety as our number one priority, and in line with Government advice and guidelines.
Along with everybody at Hinkley Point B, I was desperately sad to learn of the tragic passing of one of our own employees from COVID-19 in April. We will continue to support station staff and the employee’s family during this difficult time and for as long as is needed.
In terms of generation, we manually shutdown reactor 4 for a planned maintenance and graphite inspection programme on 21 February. As I reported at February’s Site Stakeholder Group meeting, we decided to keep the unit off for an extended period while we work with the regulator to ensure that the longer-term safety case reflects the findings of the recent inspections and includes the results obtained from other analysis and modelling. Based on our current estimate, reactor 4 will return to service at the end of November, and during that time we will also take the opportunity to carry out additional planned routine maintenance.
Earlier this morning we shutdown reactor 3 for a similar planned extended maintenance and graphite inspection programme. The start of this outage was moved back by a couple of months due to an unplanned six-week shutdown of reactor 3 at the end of February following a water leak on the fire suppression system. During the planned extended reactor shutdown, we will be inspecting 36 graphite core channels, and as with reactor 4 we have decided to keep the unit off while we work with the regulator to ensure that the longer-term safety case reflects the findings of the recent inspections and includes the results obtained from other analysis and modelling. Based on our current estimate, reactor 3 will return to service in the middle of December, and between now and then we will also take the opportunity to carry out additional planned routine maintenance.
As I have mentioned at previous SSG meetings, we have been working over many years to fully understand and prepare for these late life changes to our nuclear power stations across the UK, and regular inspections at all our plants has provided a clear understanding of how the reactor cores age. When approved by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the longer-term safety case will build on work already completed and we expect that it will demonstrate that there are large safety margins both now and for the projected reactor lifetimes. We have invested over £200 million on the graphite research programme which benefits from the expertise of our own team of specialists as well as academics at several leading UK universities. You can find out more about graphite at: https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/graphite-core.
I hope this information is useful to you as a member of the Site Stakeholder Group, and I will of course provide a full update on the latest position at our next meeting. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact either myself or Dave Stokes (Hinkley Point B’s Community Liaison Officer) on 01278 654699 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hinkley Point B