New UK nuclear plant reaches 'major milestone'

Despite restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 outbreak, the construction of the £21 billion  Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in SW England reached a "major milestone" on Monday with the completion of the 49,000-tonne base for the second reactor.

The final concrete pour for Unit 2 continued around the clock.

The final concrete pour for Unit 2 continued around the clock. Source/copyright EDF Energy

Completion of the base met a target date set four years ago and came despite recent construction restrictions imposed on workers because of the pandemic.The outbreak resulted in a reduction in the number of workers allowed at the site to enable social distancing, and in a concentration on the most critical areas of construction. Where social distancing was not possible, workers were equipped with personal protective equipment.Minister for Business and Industry Nadhim Zahawi said: "Hinkley Point C will be a crucial part of meeting our energy needs, powering nearly six million new homes while helping achieve our net zero emissions target."The completion of the second reactor base marks an important milestone in achieving this, all with the potential to deliver as many as 25,000 new job opportunities throughout its construction, which will contribute towards our economic recovery."Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, added: "It is excellent news that Hinkley remains on track, despite the challenges of the pandemic."This success follows on the heels of the news that the Hinkley Point C project beat its regional investment target five years early; 1,100 local companies have already benefited to the tune of billions, with 10,000 jobs already."This power station represents a big step towards Net Zero emissions. It also shows nuclear's large-scale, green-growth opportunities are real, and there is more to come."Energy giant EDF said completion of the base had benefited from productivity lessons learnt during construction of the base for the first reactor, which was finished last year. Those lessons, EDF added, would also benefit construction of the new reactor planned for Sizewell in Suffolk, for which the company submitted a planning application last week.Stuart Crooks, Hinkley Point C managing director, Crooks said: "I want to thank workers and our union partners for their extraordinary efforts to make safe working possible during the pandemic."They have adapted to major changes in everyday behaviours and working practices which would have been unimaginable a few months ago."Hinkley Point C has a strong culture of learning and innovation which is leading to improved productivity as we get ahead building our second identical reactor. This experience is a great basis for further identical reactors at Sizewell C."The first reactor at the site is due to become operational in 2025, with the second one around a year later.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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