One thousand extra workers will join the workforce during the ten week period, providing a boost to the local economy. They will carry out 12,000 separate pieces of work – each carefully planned during the last two years of preparation.
The extensive programme of work will also see inspections inside the reactor, as well as installation of new equipment at the plant. The biggest projects include replacing two large gas circulators which help cool the reactor, as well as replacing blades on the turbine which is used to turn steam into low carbon electricity.
The maintenance periods known as “statutory outages” take place every three years and are planned in advance with the National Grid to ensure that there is no impact on the national electricity supply. Hinkley Point B’s other reactor is due to continue operating normally throughout the period.
Station Director, Mike Harrison, said: “This inspection and investment programme has been carefully planned over the last two years and will enable us to continue safely generating low carbon electricity at Hinkley B for many years to come.
“It’s good news for the local economy which will see benefits for local shops, taxis, restaurants, B and Bs and hotels.”
The project is overseen by outage manager, Mike Davies, who said: “Taking the reactor out of service means we can inspect it and carry out maintenance which we wouldn’t normally be able to do. Inspections will take place inside the reactor as well as in its boilers. We’ll be working closely with our contractors and nuclear engineering specialists from across the country to get this work done on time.”
Hinkley Point B’s two reactors generate enough electricity to power around one and a half million homes and started operating in February 1976. The power station is due to continue operating until 2023. It has saved the equivalent of an estimated 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions during its 39 years of operation. Last year Hinkley Point B produced its highest output for ten years.