Plans for New Emergency Response Centre Unveiled
EDF Energy today unveiled plans for a new Emergency Response Centre for Sizewell B power station.
EDF Energy plans to build an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) on a brown field site at the Sizewell B Railhead on the outskirts of Leiston, Suffolk.
The plans for the building, which will house back-up plant and equipment to enhance the station’s emergency response capability, were revealed at Sizewell Sports and Social Club tonight (Monday, 30 April, 2012).
Before finalising its plans, the energy company is holding an informal public consultation on the proposals over a three-week period, starting with a two-day public display at Sizewell Sports and Social Centre tomorrow (Tuesday, 1 May) and Wednesday (2 May).
Local residents have been invited along to comment on the plans, before the planning application is submitted.
“The nuclear industry already has nearly half a century of history working with the communities in this area to produce safe, low carbon electricity to power the homes and industries of the UK,” said Martin Cubitt, Technical and Safety Manager at Sizewell B power station.
“At Sizewell B power station, we are particularly proud of our safety record, built up since we began generating electricity in 1995.”
“Safety is, and always has been, our over-riding priority. However, as a responsible operator, we recognise that we cannot afford to be complacent. The provision of this Emergency Response Centre is a demonstration of the importance we place on safety.”
“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.”
“We are also committed to working within the community and feel it is important to let local people know about the project, to let them have their input, before we put in the planning application.”
The proposal to build the ERC follows the independent review by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) into the UK nuclear fleet after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to an incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.
Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, who led the review concluded that the ‘UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental weaknesses’.
An internal EDF Energy review of their 8 nuclear power plants, including Sizewell B, supported those findings.
However, in support of recommendations from the ONR, EDF Energy has identified a number of areas of improvement, which further enhance safety margins to protect the fleet against the most unpredictable natural events.
At Sizewell, the ERC will house back-up plant and equipment storage and office space associated with EDF Energy’s enhanced emergency arrangements. It will ensure that Sizewell B is suitably resilient in the case of an extreme natural event affecting the whole locality.
Sizewell B will receive its own ERC, following a recommendation from the ONR, whereas EDF Energy will be building regional facilities for the other power stations in its UK fleet. The reason for this is that Sizewell B is the only Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) in the UK. The other stations in the EDF Energy fleet are Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGRs), whose technology affords us a greater response time in the case of an extreme event.
The proposed site for the building - Sizewell B Railhead - was identified after an evaluation was carried out on 10 possible sites close to the nuclear power plant. The site was selected for a number of criteria, which includes it being 15m above sea level, a brown field site and it avoids important sites for nature conservation and areas of outstanding natural beauty in the area.
EDF Energy is committed to ensuring that the facility is robust against extreme natural events and that it minimises the impact on the surrounding landscape and environment by including:
- A green sedum roof
- Renewable technologies
- Is no higher than 9m above ground level
- Existing hedgerows can be increased to minimise visual impact
- A curved roof and timber effect cladding
As well as the informal public consultation, there will also be a statutory public consultation after the planning application is submitted in mid-June.
The informal public consultation runs from 1 May to 21 May, 2012. This will include a public exhibition at the Sizewell Sports & Social Club in Leiston between 12pm and 8pm on 1 and 2 May. Local residents can also pick up consultation feedback forms from Leiston Library.
It is hoped that the facility will be fully operational by the spring of 2014, with construction beginning at the start of 2013.