A HUGE £25m investment programme has started at Hartlepool’s nuclear power plant – with hundreds of extra workers drafted in to carry it out.
Major works are under way on Unit 1 at the site as part of its statutory once-in-three-year maintenance programme.
The workforce has temporarily rocketed from 710 workers to double that while a 70-day programme of essential work is completed.
Station director Paul Newman said: “Every three years, we have to have a statutory outage which is a bit like your car having its regular MoT.
“In that period, we have to do some essential maintenance and inspection work, and we also do quite a bit of investment and plant improvement, and this time is no exception.
“It underpins the safety and reliability of the plant and our investment for the future to underpin the life extension of the plant.”
He outlined the extensive programme which included:
l Inspection of the reactor.
l Replacement of a gas circulator pump.
l Modification of the reactor gas circuit.
l Routine maintenance on the turbine and cooling water plant.
The cost of bringing in contractors – and spare parts – is around £15.5m, with another £10m going on further investment to upgrade the plant.
The work is about half way through and likely to be completed by the third week in August.
The programme is also being carried out after the station was given another extension of its lifespan until at least 2019.
Mr Newman said: “We will continue to keep that under review. If it is still safe and economic, we shall look at whether we can extend it further.”
The Hartlepool power plant brings in an estimated £30m a year to the local economy and has produced energy for the National Grid in 1984.
During its working life so far, the station has saved around 140 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Hartlepool is on an eight-strong list of sites where new power stations could be built. It is understood that any new build would not happen until at least 2020 if the town was selected.
Mr Newman said the site was not one being considered for any immediate new-build programme, but it remained “a very viable site for the future”.