The under-construction Hinkley Point C near Bridgwater suffered structural damage when its 35-metre tower partially collapsed, creating a massive dust cloud as seen on online- published dramatic photos last 10th June, Wednesday.
An investigation ensued following the said incident, which looks into why a section of the tower caved in and whether the released plume of dust brought harm to nearby areas.
Witnesses reported a loud banging sound around 7:30 in the morning on 10th June when the 35-metre, 5,000-tonne silo at Hinkley Point C partially collapsed inwards. The alleged explosion was followed by the release of an enormous dust cloud into the sky.
The Hinkley Point C is a nuclear power station that is still undergoing construction and is expected to be completed by 2025. The silo is found within the concrete batching plant of this development near Bridgwater.
The structural damage can be seen in captured photos of the collapsed tower, wherein parts of the top are dented inwards. There are also plumes of smoke-like dust particles surrounding the structure.
EDF Energy, the energy supplier behind the construction, denied the explosion claims and further assured that no emergency services were needed. All workers on the site were accounted for and uninjured, according to the Big Six provider.
The spokesperson for EDF also stated that an investigation was immediately launched to look more into the incident and what caused it.
The silo is the primary storage for ground blast-furnace slag, the reusable material that plays a significant role in the construction of the power plant. It is made by quenching liquified iron slag from the blast furnace in steam or water to fabricate the granular product, which is glass.
The glass product is then dried and finely ground, which explains the dusty cloud that formed after the collapse. EDF has stated that it posed no risk to the greater public and that the environmental team confirmed that the dusty cloud is not harmful.
The construction of Hinkley Point C has pushed through despite the current coronavirus crisis. Several workers have expressed their worry that social distancing measures could be lacking in the workplace.
As a response, EDF cut down the workforce to less than 2,500 people, and social distancing is to be observed, especially in the site and canteen.
There are also additional health guidelines where workers cannot maintain the recommended two-metre distance, such as using personal protective equipment or PPE.
Hinkley Point C is being constructed in Somerset. It is the first nuclear power station in the country in over twenty years. The plant aims to deliver low-carbon electricity to about six million households and provide thousands of jobs, which further benefits the economy.
The power station was officially approved by the UK government in 2016 and eyes a 2025 completion. It had an estimated cost of about £20 billion, but the energy supplier has confidently announced that it could drop the expenses lower to £16 billion.
EDF has expressed further plans to establish another power station in Suffolk, specifically at Sizewell.
Hinkley Point C is set to offer 25,000 job opportunities and as much as 1,000 apprenticeships. It is also expected that about 64% of the construction value will be paid to UK companies.
This new nuclear power station is the firm’s answer to the government’s call for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Its two EPR reactors are designed to offset nine million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. In its 60 years of expected lifespan, the plant will have offset about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.