Inside Hinkley Point B as power station's life to come to an end in 2022

  • Watch Ben McGrail's report

The boss of the West Country’s only operating nuclear power station says his staff still have long futures in the industry, despite Hinkley Point B’s life coming to an end.

The station, which began producing electricity in 1976, will stop generating next summer but it is hoped many of its workers will move to Hinkley Point C, which is being built next door.

Hinkley Point B has been a fixture on the West Somerset coastline for half a century and has played a crucial part in the UK's energy industry. When both reactors are operating it meets the needs of about a million homes.

Peter Evans is the station director and says his staff still have long futures in the nuclear energy industry, despite the upcoming changes.

Hinkley Point B has two nuclear reactors which, when both are operating, meet the needs of around a million homes Credit: ITV News West Country

He said: "We’re already having one-to-one conversations with our people and also there’s a nuclear power station next door, which gives a new nuclear lifetime and we’re already training our teams to transfer to Hinkley Point C.

"But also we need the skill and the professionalism of the people who work here to continue defuelling these reactors."

Hinkley Point C is scheduled to start generating power in 2026. The gap between then and when B station stops operating next year will be the first time in over 60 years that the West Country hasn’t had an operating nuclear power station.

EDF Energy is currently building a new nuclear power station, Hinkley Point C, next door to B station Credit: ITV News West Country

The first stage of shutting it down will be what's known as 'defuelling'.

Shaheed Mungur is the performance manager at the station. He said: "The process to get rid of fuel is expected to be about three years. Beyond that we're into decommissioning and that is a multi year program to get this into safe storage.

"So that'll be a prolonged program, so it's going to be a massive change, but it's really exciting. There's a whole load of new opportunities that are opening up for everybody."

Generations of families have worked at Hinkley Point B over the years. Now is the time for them to work out where their future lies.

The simulator of Hinkley Point B's control room. Credit: ITV News West Country

Karen Lesson has worked at the power station for nearly 20 years. She said: "There's a group of us that are excited for the engineering project that's coming up and the next chapter in the life of the station.

"There will be those that have been here through their apprenticeship and generation that are probably looking for their next chapter at the age of retirement and what they're going to do afterwards.

"I think it's two camps, but for me personally, I'm just excited about the future."

Karen Lesson is set to stay on at Hinkley Point B to help with its defuelling Credit: ITV News West Country

Hannah Warner is an apprentice and said: "It definitely turns heads when you do say that you work at a nuclear power station.

"It’s one big system broken down into loads of little systems and yeah it’s fascinating being able to work in a place like this every day."

The future at Hinkley Point B is one of change for everyone on site but it and they will will leave behind quite a legacy - over 45 years it has produced enough electricity to power every single home in the UK for three years.

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