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EDF Energy sets up Emergency Response Centres to support UK nuclear plants

21 May 2014

The March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster, where three of the Japanese plant's six nuclear reactors went into meltdown after being hit by a tsunami, has been closely analysed by the nuclear industry worldwide for the lessons it can teach other plant operators. 

Sizewell's Emergency Response Centre - Photo EDF Energy
Sizewell's Emergency Response Centre - Photo EDF Energy

In the UK, a thorough review of the UK’s nuclear power sector by the ONR’s Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, found that UK facilities had "no fundamental weaknesses." He did, however, make a number of recommendations to further enhance safety and resilience.

In line with these recommendations, EDF Energy identified a number of areas where safety margins could be improved to protect the fleet against unpredictable events known as ‘beyond design basis’ events.

EDF Energy initiated a three-year, £180m plan to meet these recommendations at its eight nuclear power stations. This has included additional training for key technical staff, enhancements to backup equipment and emergency command and control facilities.

The company’s first Emergency Response Centre near the Sizewell B nuclear power station became fully operational in March, 2014. There will eventually be four,  covering all the UK’s nuclear plants.

The Emergency Response Centres will provide back-up for the multiple safety systems already in place at the station. They will contain back-up plant and control systems to enable operators to control the station remotely, as well as emergency equipment, generators, high pressure pumps and vehicles that can be rapidly deployed in the case of an extreme event.

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