A worker at Hinkley Point C has told ITV News he fears his health, and that of his colleagues, is being put at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
The construction of the new nuclear power station in Somerset is considered a critical project by the Government, but there are growing concerns, both on site and in nearby Bridgwater, about the potential for the virus to spread.
The company behind the project, EDF Energy, today [April 1] announced it’s going further with measures to tackle the problem.
EDF faced criticism last week after pictures were circulated showing staff buses and the site's cafeteria packed with employees, making it impossible for social-distancing regulations to be followed.
Since then measures have been taken by EDF, including only half-filling company buses, to keep staff safe.
However, workers believe not enough has been done and say the outcome of the project has been given priority over the health and safety of those delivering it.
You’ve still got people in vans - three and up, and all the toilets are rammed. There’s an account that I know of where someone’s been sent home with symptoms and the whole of their workforce - (the people) they work with and have had prolonged contact with - have been told not to isolate.
As well as being a huge point of concern for employees - conditions are also worrying residents in the nearby town of Bridgwater.
One woman, who like many has taken in lodgers commuting from elsewhere in the country to work at Hinkley Point C, has said she fears workers are spreading the virus in the town.
He (my lodger) was going home to his wife and his little girl, but the problem is that we know that London is supposedly the epicentre of coronavirus. If he and others like him are travelling up and down, then coming back into private accommodation and going into shops, supermarkets and mixing with the other staff at Hinkley the danger is that he’s bringing the virus with him.
In response to these concerns, EDF has confirmed it is taking further steps to stop the spread of Covid-19.
It has said only workers living on company campuses, or who live with other staff, will be allowed on site.
Nigel Cann from EDF said that, like everyone else adapting to the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, the company is learning as they go along and the safety of staff and public is paramount.
Unite, the union which represents a number of employees at Hinkley Point C, said the company has addressed safety issues and adequately responded to concerns raised.
Regional secretary for Unite, Heathcliffe Pettifer, added that employees have to take ownership of their ability to socially distance themselves at work, and report issues as they arise.