Safety comes first at nuclear power station

Safety Model 1 SUS-140406-112825001
Safety Model 1 SUS-140406-112825001

THE safety of the public and employees is an ‘overriding priority’ says Dungeness B station director Martin Pearson.

He was speaking as the station has completed a vital stage of ongoing flood defence work in which £5 million has been invested so far.

The work began in 2013 and to upgrade the existing flooding defences to cover events that are extremely unlikely to occur in the U.K., ones that might happen only one in every 10,000 years.

Last year the station undertook new modelling to see the effects on the shingle bank in front of the station during hypothetical weather conditions, more extreme than we have ever seen on the Kent coastline.

A scale model of the shingle bank was built and subjected to severe storm conditions. The results from this modelling fed into a programme of improvement works which is now well underway.

Part of these works include the 1.5m high concrete flood wall which is now complete. It spans 1.3km around the site and cost approximately £2.3 million.

Other coastal flooding work includes sealing cable tunnels and shingle membrane fitting which are also complete.

The next phase of works is a rock armour wall behind the shingle bank, expected to be completed by Winter 2014. This will fully restore the external flooding design basis of the site, providing protection against the 1 in 10,000 year external flood scenarios.

Mr Pearson said: “The site has many existing layers of protection against flooding and this package of works further enhances those defences to cover extremely unlikely severe weather events.

“We will shortly be putting in a planning application for the ’rock armour’ boulder defence which will further protect the sea-facing side of the site.

“ Members of the public are always invited to tour the site where they will see some of the work we have already done.

“EDF Energy takes a cautious approach, works closely with the regulator and operates with very conservative safety margins.

“We have stringent safety requirements. We carry out regular inspections, including of the graphite bricks that are part of the cores of the reactors.

“We work continuously with experts and UK universities to understand how materials in our nuclear reactors change over time and how that will affect the stations’ operations. We regularly refine our own safety assessments as we uncover new information and share our findings with the regulator and with the wider scientific community.”