£30 million MOT for Torness nuclear reactor

Torness and its turbine hall. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Torness and its turbine hall. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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ONE of the reactors at a nuclear power station in East Lothian is being taken offline for “several weeks” as part of a major MOT costing about 
£30 million.

The inspection will see 1000 engineers and specialists perform 13,000 procedures at the plant that can supply energy for up to two million homes per day.

Station chiefs say the outage is routine and required by law every three years but have remained tight-lipped about how long the plant will be offline for “commercial ­reasons”.

Reactor one was shut off yesterday for its tenth major outage after more than two years of “meticulous planning”.

In May, both of the station’s reactors were forced to shut down after an upsurge in seaweed provoked fears it could clog the cooling water intake system.

Stormy seas have been blamed for an increase in seaweed in the water.

Several East Lothian firms have been contracted for the project while local hotels, caravan parks and B&Bs are expected to see a spike in ­bookings.

Torness station director Paul Winkle said: “Once again Torness will turn to a number of local firms, with whom we have a tried and trusted relationship, to provide essential services during this outage.

“We are impressed by the high standards of the companies we work with and the quality of their workmanship.

“These companies will work alongside specialist firms from across the world who are leaders in their field.”

Major plant investment projects include the replacement of a generator transformer, an increased fuel channel inspection programme and the exchange of turbine and generator rotors.

The number of workers on site will more than double with around 500 specialist workers brought in to assist Torness staff.

Torness nuclear power station only reopened to the public last year after being closed off following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The power station unveiled its new visitor centre yesterday before taking guests on a guided walk of the power station – the first since 2001.

French firm EDF Energy, which runs the facility, said it hoped to attract thousands of visitors, from East Lothian and across Scotland, as part of its commitment to increasing openness at nuclear power ­stations.

Torness power station has been generating enough power for more than two million homes since it started operating in 1988. The station employs more than 500 staff.

Last August, Torness clocked up 200TWh of low carbon electricity generated since it was connected to the grid in 1988. Putting it into perspective, this amount of power has avoided the production of 130 million tonnes of CO2 – the same as taking all of the passenger cars off the UK’s roads for two years.