7 Dec 12

Work commences on Emergency Response Centre for Sizewell B

Work on the Sizewell B Emergency Response Centre is due to start in Leiston this month.

EDF Energy has awarded the contract for the work to VINCI Construction UK after The Suffolk Coastal District Planning Committee approved plans for a new Emergency Response Centre (ERC) in September.

VINCI Construction UK has a long association with the nuclear sector and the company’s strategy focuses on using local people from local supply chain partners to keep local skill levels high and expenditure within the region.

Last week VINCI Construction UK awarded a contract to carry out the ground works and building works for the concrete frame of the building to Newall Civil Engineering based in Besthorpe, Attleborough, Norfolk.

The ERC will house back-up plant and equipment to enhance the station’s emergency response capability. Plans for the new facility were shared with the local community at the end of April at the beginning of a period of public consultation.

The new centre will be based near the Sizewell B rail head in Leiston, the location was chosen following careful examination of ten possible sites near to the power station. This is a brown field site, positioned 15metres above sea level and avoids important sites for nature conservation and the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

EDF Energy is committed to ensuring that the facility is robust against extreme natural events. Furthermore, a number of features have been incorporated into the design of the ERC to minimise the impact of the new building on the environment and surrounding landscape, such as a green sedum roof, renewable technologies, a curved roof and an increase in existing hedgerows.

Speaking about the start of the work, Jim Crawford, Sizewell B Station Director said: “This is a landmark project for the industry. The ONR has concluded that UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental weaknesses. This Emergency Response Centre will provide another layer of safety for Sizewell B, providing robust back-up for the measures already in place at the station.”

Background to the project

EDF Energy has received confirmation that they can build an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) on a brown field site at the Sizewell B Railhead on the outskirts of Leiston, Suffolk following the statutory public consultation period.

Before finalising its plans, the energy company took comments from the local residents to ensure local views are considered in the location, design and construction of the building.

Work 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.

With receipt of the planning permission, it is hoped that the facility will be fully operational by the spring of 2014.