Published on: Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Recently, our Lower Sixth Form physicists were lucky enough to benefit from a bespoke guided tour of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which is currently being built on the River Severn estuary just north of Bridgwater.

This is the 3rd generation of nuclear power station at the site and will become the most powerful generator in the country when it comes live in 2929.

Firstly they were given a lecture at the visitors centre explaining how the power station works; it’s a European pressurised water reactor, if you’re interested, and has many layers of safety systems so it is regarded as the safest design ever for a power station, so it is pretty much impossible for any of the nuclear accidents of the past to happen. It’s bomb-proof, tsunami-proof, designed to withstand a jumbo jet flying into it, and if anything goes wrong, it shuts itself down. There is a lot of good environmental science and physics here.

They then spent time learning about the site and the construction at the centre before they got on the tour bus, under the supervision of 2 security guards and made our way to the secure site. There, rather like an airport, they had to declare that they were not taking any guns, knives, photographic equipment, or even phones onto the site!

This is the biggest building project in Europe and the most expensive single site in the world, and the first thing that strikes you is the huge scale of everything. One student said they were wowed by the immense and intricate engineering, whilst another said, ‘These were megastructures that were very cyberpunk! '

There is a forest of enormous tower cranes, dwarfed by the world's largest crane, Big Carl, at nearly 250m high. Yet this crane doesn’t seem big, as everything is on a huge scale. The two reactor buildings are each nearly 100m tall, and the generator hall is over 100m long. Over 10,000 people work on the site 24 hours a day and will do so for over 10 years to complete the build.

These workers mostly live on or near the site and have to be fed three times a day. They have their own entertainment complexes, fire and ambulance stations, and accommodations blocks—rather like a boarding school on steroids!

We’d like to thank Mr Shamseddine and Mr Lang for organising the tour.

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