On Thursday, 25 June 2015, the Devon & Cornwall branch arranged a field trip to the Hinkley Point B Power Station for its members, providing 4 hours of CPD.
The visit started at the EDF’s visitor centre at the Angel Place Shopping centre, in the local town of Bridgwater. Some basic security checks were performed, followed by a presentation highlighting the Companies health and safety message of the day, ‘Slips Trips and Falls’. The presentation went on to cover about the Power Station and the history and progress of the site. They also explained how they attracted students into their industry by going into the local primary and secondary schools, talking to them about their industry and promoting possible careers within the energy business. They also support Bridgwater College with the relevant courses that help students who are also interested in starting a career with them.
Hinkley Point B started generating in 1976 and is one of seven nuclear power stations owned by EDF Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the EDF Group, employing over 6,600 people at its power stations and offices. It was the first Advanced Gas-cooled (AGR) reactor to generate in the UK, and is also the home of their proposed new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C, which again, will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The group travelled to the Hinkley Point site, where on approach construction works could be seen of Hinkley Point C in its early stage of development, together with the decommissioned Hinkley Point A site, which was currently still standing.
On waking to the main office, the tour guide pointed out some environmental filters that are hung out to capture air quality. These filters are sent off regularly for testing for any radiation pollutants, and it was these objects that detected the Chernobyl leak before the Russians admitted they had a disaster on their hands, in the form of a reactor meltdown.
On gaining entry to the main office, everyone was body scanned for any metal objects and PPE was handed out. The group was then walked over to the operating plant and guided through the turbine hall before being taken onto the main viewing platform overlooking the two reactors.
It was learned that each reactor was constructed with 6 metres of reinforced concrete and steel to be able to survive earthquakes, flooding and fire. The tour guides explained how the reactors could be shut down safely in an emergency. Throughout the tour the emphasis on health and safety was an overriding priority and is at their heart of their culture, with highly proceduralised operations, which are subject to independent scrutiny. The group were told that in the last 50 years there has never been an incident at a civil nuclear Power Station that has had an impact on the local community.
The tour continued to the viewing platform overlooking the main operations room where several operators worked on the Power Station operational systems. It was like stepping back in time to the seventies with and a ‘mission control’ feel to it, as this room, apart from the IT equipment looked the same as the day it was built.
The tour concluded with a look at the outside transformers that conduct over 880MW power onto the national grid.