The head of a major environmental group has condemned a multi-million pound overhaul of the Hunterston ‘B’ nuclear power plant, saying the money could be better spent.
Hunterston ‘B’, North Ayrshire’s largest private sector employer, was originally due to be decommissioned in 2011 but received an extension until 2017. That has now been extended again until 2023.
EDF Energy, operator of the nuclear facility, says it will invest more than £20m to ensure the power station “continues to operate efficiently and safely”. Station Director Colin Weir added, “As the plant ages, we have to look at what's ageing and replace some components. More importantly, we also test and inspect our components, much as you would with a vintage car. We take a great deal of care with our nuclear power plant.”
The current major overhaul, known as a ‘statutory outage’, has resulted in part of the plant being shut-down, with two Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors offline until October. The overall workforce at the Hunterston site has doubled as a result of the project, with contractors brought in to do much of the work.
However, Dr Richard Dixon from Friends of the Earth Scotland pointed out, “You could create many more jobs if you were investing in energy-efficiency, insulating people's homes and, in particular, in renewables. You would get more jobs for the same amount of money and you wouldn't be creating more nuclear waste, for which we have no solution.”