Massive Â£60m project for Hartlepool Power Station to bring hundreds of jobs
Hartlepool Power Station is set to at least double its workforce as it begins 2018 with a project worth Â£60 million.
The EDF nuclear power plant is set to stage a planned shut down of one of its two reactors in January for two months to allow vital work to be done.
It will see hundreds more workers employed on site from 750 currently to between 1,500 to 2,000.
Station manager Craig Dohring told the Mail: “It’s a really exciting time for the station to be making further improvements.
“It is a good opportunity to do lots of work in two months and get the unit ready for another three years.
“Probably a third of the £60m will end up in the local area. A lot of those additional people will come from outside the area and we will also utilise local people.
“I think it is fantastic for us.”
The work will include replacing three huge steam powered turbines as well as other essential maintenance.
It comes on the back of the power station’s most successful year to date when the plant in Tees Road, Hartlepool, has generated enough electricity to power approximately two million homes.
It has also been the best year ever for safety.
Mr Dohring, who has just come to the end of his first year as station manager, said the success is a result of six years of investment in improving reliability paying dividends as well as a huge drive to improve from workers.
In 2017, EDF invested a further £27m into the Hartlepool plant and also a further £30m is planned for 2018.
The station is currently due to come to the end of its lifespan in 2024 after previously winning a five-year extension.
But Mr Dohring said he hopes it could be extended even further, and even if it does not assured it will remain a site of employment for “many years” to come.
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“As a business we went to look to see can we extend beyond 2024,” he said.
“We will have been operating then for nearly 41 years but we think there is opportunities there.”
And Mr Dohring revealed they are already starting to plan ahead for potential decommissioning of the site.
He said: “We are now starting to talk about what we call a transition period, coming to the end of its generating life and into defuelling and decommissioning.”
That includes planning to make sure workers will have the right skills.
“We are starting to build that up now even though the station is going to be generating into the 2020s,” said Mr Dohring.
“We are seeing real positives about what opportunities there are for everybody moving forward.”
EDF’s positivity for the future is reflected in its commitment to the next generation of workers.
Hartlepool Power Station has just seen six former apprentices land full time jobs, and has welcomed another six through the door.
It is part of a rolling four-year programme to take on 24 apprentices.
The power station also runs a mentoring programme sponsoring sixth form students through university to try to keep future engineers in the area.
Recent events like Lab Live at the Borough Hall featuring explosive experiments also aim to catch the imaginations of younger people.
Mr Dohring said: “The reason we are here is about that security of supply and we do play a key role in that and think we are in a very positive position for the nuclear generation.
“It has been a fantastic year for the station.”