A STRICT Covid-19 testing regime will be in place when hundreds of contractors descend on Torness Power Station for its statutory outage.

The outage – when a power station is shutdown for essential maintenance – was planned for the plant, near Dunbar, last summer but it was postponed with the agreement of the regulator to allow better arrangements and mitigations to be put in place to manage Covid-19.

The £25 million project is due to get under way on Friday (January 22) and will run for about 10 weeks, with 500 additional contractors working at the power station.

About 350 of them will stay in local accommodation.

Tam Albishawi, station director, stressed that a number of measures were in place.

He said: “The usual things will happen in terms of planning and preparation to make sure we deliver a safe outage.

“In addition, the Covid situation has allowed us actually to change some of our mitigation.

“We have invested in mass testing capability and we will be testing everyone involved in the outage every week.

“That provides us with the ability to capture any asymptomatic individuals and to reduce the risk of any spread.

“We are continuing to review the latest varying of the lockdown implications.

“Being part of critical national infrastructure, to ensure we get the right contractors on site to support the outage, what we will do is ensure every person who comes to site has had a negative Covid test before they are actually allowed on site.

“Every person who comes on site must have a negative test before they can actually get through the gate.”

Two-metre social distancing is also in place at the power station, as well as thermal cameras as people enter the site.

Mr Albishawi added: “Everyone wears masks and if someone is not able to wear a mask then we have additional options, like using the face visor and keeping that distance.

“We have one-way systems in place to minimise the chance of the spread and they are all in place now on the site.

“For the statutory outage, we have made sure these one-way systems are very clear for our visiting contractors. Those that can work from home are working from home.”

The statutory outage is taking place on reactor one at the power station, with 12,000 pieces of work to be carried out.

Hundreds of contractors will be visiting the station over the next two-and-a-half months.

Mr Albishawi stressed that not all contractors would be on site at one time and 150 of those contractors would be travelling from within 65 miles.

The remaining 350 will be staying in local accommodation providers as key workers.

The station director said: “We have split the working so that we limit the total number of people on site at any one time.

“Essentially, we have split the working to closer to 50-50 between day and night so that limits the total number of people and therefore the total risk of transmission.”

The reactor is on its second longest run since the start of generation in 1988 and is due to reach its longest-ever run on Saturday. Last year, Torness generated 9.8TWh of low-carbon electricity; enough to power 2.64 million homes.