£50M boost for nuclear station

A POWER station is set for an extra £50m investment. And that's just one of a string of good news announcements for the plant.

Staff at Hartlepool's nuclear site are on a high after a series of positive developments – all in the last month.

The plant produced more electricity than any other EDF Energy-owned site in England last year.

It is also due to get a 50m injection in the next three to four years on top of its normal annual investment of 20m.

Thirdly, the plant's lifespan has also been extended from 2014 until 2019.

And around half a dozen more apprentices are being taken on as the power station looks to the future.

Station director Paul Newman told Business Mail: "A lot of things are going in the right direction at the moment, and last year was a very good year for us. "

He explained why a major cash injection was on the way. It included the need to focus on the quality of cooling water used in the boilers.

"One of the critical areas around the lifetime extension is the condition of our boilers," said Mr Newman.

"We are putting a lot of effort in to assuring the long term integrity of the boilers. That comes down to the plant that we use for the purity of the water and the protection systems."

Another area of investment will be in inspecting and monitoring the graphite core of the plant and some of the reactor's internal structures. Some of the control and instrumentation equipment will be replaced.

The Hartlepool plant is also well into the process of recruiting around half a dozen more apprentices to add to the 30 already taken on over the last three years.

Mr Newman said: "As we go forward, people who have worked here for a long time will no doubt be looking to retire. We need to be sure we have the right intake and think about bringing people in to the nuclear environment."

He said the recruitment was needed both for the current power station and with one eye on the potential for Hartlepool becoming the site of a new plant – although that remains merely a possibility at some point in the future.

On top of all that, the station has been announced as the top generating plant within EDF Energy in 2010 after producing 8.1 terrawatt hours.

That level of production, said Mr Newman, meant the avoidance of five million tonnes of carbon dioxide which would have been created if the energy had been produced by a fossil fired power station. It was, he said, the equivalent of taking seven per cent of all cars off the roads of Britain.