TASC members Bob & Audrey visit Hinkley Point. Here is their report.
After being accepted on to the tour we were asked to report to the EDF visitor centre in Bridgwater at 10 am. Once there we were asked for ID and, at random, some of us had to be searched. Those who were not selected for searching were asked to sit down while those who were, Bob was one, were taken aside and body searched by an officious G4S woman in uniform. He had to take clothes off but she declined when he offered to remove his trousers too!
It was emphasised that no cameras or phones could be used on the tour.
There were about 25 of us. A mixed bunch, some lads from the local college, some middle aged folk who looked as though they had been before and were interested in the progress at the site, and Bob and me. Once we were all sitting down we were given the whole EDF glossy presentation with slides and usual emphasis on jobs and what they are contributing to schools and the community.
We were then herded out to a waiting coach and driven out of Bridgwater to the site. As we travelled along the ‘guide’ was quick to point out the new bypass, large roundabouts and road improvements put in place before construction started and how traffic management cameras control where commuter, delivery and construction vehicles are allowed to go. We had noticed, however, signs directing delivery vehicles through residential areas on the outskirts of the town.
Once we had reached the site we were shocked at the size of it. It is enormous!! To imagine it at Sizewell is frightening. At the moment they are building the first reactor site and it is 180 hectares, 245 football pitches, and will grow ‘slightly’ to accommodate the second reactor construction. They didn’t say by how much. We noticed the number of cranes of all sizes. We counted 36 and the guide boasted that very soon the biggest crane in the world, ‘Big Carl’, would arrive from Ghent to lift enormous loads such as reactor vessels.
The size of the spoil heaps are beyond belief and the huge dumper trucks, which take 100 tons and loaded in 90 seconds, moving up and down them making them look minuscule. There are also huge rock crushers making various grades of material. The batching plants are as enormous as we have seen and controlled by a PHD engineer responsible for 17 different grades of concrete.
The concrete sea wall was pointed out under which the seawater cooling tunnels will be bored. Two 3.3km intake, one 2km outfall. The huge 7m dia. pipe sections were in the lay up area along with the boring machine and drilling heads which would be left at the end of the tunnels when they are complete, they are too big to retrieve.
All this time on the tour it was impossible to assess the full impact of the noise because the coach was sealed and sound proof. They are allowed up to 65 decibels during the day and 40 decibels at night, we were told.
We saw the on-site accommodation blocks. These take 510 workers and cost £35 a day full board. The buildings are right on the edge of the site. Others in Bridgwater are capable of taking 986. Two thirds of the work force will rent privately in the area or be home based. The commute is up to 90 minutes, as with Sizewell, and we pointed out that this represents 60 miles plus 10 to 12 miles from park and ride to site. 70 plus miles each way to work.
There are 50 nationalities working on site.
A geodesic dome under construction was pointed out on site to cover the reactor vessel. Having learnt from Flamanville that they need protection from the weather!
It was pointed out that fish deterrent apparatus is still being negotiated.
The 5km jetty was used to dump water from the de-watering of the site into the sea.
After the coach returned to Bridgwater we met Alan Jeffrey, from Stop Hinkley. We had lunch together and spent a couple of hours talking with him about the horrors that lie ahead.