The historic Heysham nuclear power station in England has returned one of its reactors to service after completing a planned maintenance shutdown.
Heysham 1’s staff and contractors embarked on an extensive, 25 million Euro ($30M U.S.) maintenance project once the reactor was shut down in September. The nuclear power plant, owned and operated by EDF Energy, has operated since the early 1980s and is located in Lancashire.
Both Heysham 1 and 2 stations brought in COVID-era prevention practices to the workforce early in 2020. These include temperature monitoring, enhanced cleaning regimes and mandatory face masks.
“This was a real test of the team here at the station and they have met that challenge by safely completing the work and returning the reactor to power,” Martin Cheetham, station director at Heysham 1, said in a statement. “As well as tackling the usual big maintenance projects, the team have also inspected the reactor’s graphite core as part of an on-going inspection programme happening at each of our stations and the good news is that these checks have confirmed that all is as expected.”
Heysham 1 provides enough low carbon electricity for around two million homes. The whole EDF fleet of eight power stations can provide up to 20 percent of the UK’s electricity demand.
During the Heysham shutdown the site’s team of around 750 people was supported by around 1,000 extra temporary contractors with many from Heysham, Morecambe and Lancaster.
“These shutdowns are a very busy time for all at Heysham 1 and are years in the planning,” Cheetham added. “Turning off a reactor allows us to get in to some key areas we can’t easily access when the station is operating.”
Both Haysham 1 and 2 operate advanced gas-cooled reactors.
In 2016, Haysham 2’s Unit 8 broke a world record for longest continuous operation of a nuclear generator. It broke the 894-day record set by the Pickering Nuclear Station in Ontario, Canada.