A MULTI-MILLION-POUND scheme which saw more than 14,000 separate pieces of work carried out at Torness Power Station is complete.

Reactor 1 at the EDF-operated nuclear power station has returned to service following a £25 million investment programme, which took place over the course of three months.

A number of important projects were successfully completed, including the replacement of the low-pressure turbine rotor, turbine valve inspections and detailed inspections of the graphite core.

At its peak, more than 850 people were present on site including visiting contractors.

Despite this, both industrial and Covid-19 safety were maintained.

Tam Albishawi, station director at the power station to the east of Dunbar, was pleased with how the outage had gone.

He said: “Outages are always planned scrupulously to ensure they run well and we took the same approach to managing Covid during an outage.

“As well as putting in place a strict testing regime, we ensured the enforcement of social distancing, regular hand washing and mandatory mask wearing on site.

“I am glad that the measures we put in place kept rates so low, keeping people on site and in the community safe.

“In addition to tackling the usual big maintenance projects, the team have also inspected the reactor’s graphite core as part on an ongoing inspection programme happening at each of our stations and these checks have confirmed that all is as expected.

“Everyone involved worked really hard to make sure we were able to deliver one of our best ever outages and I am delighted that the unit is back online and helping Britain achieve net zero.”

Covid was a particular focus of the outage, which had been postponed from summer last year to allow for better arrangements to be introduced nationally and at the site.

EDF acted early to introduce “stringent protective measures” including social distancing, mandatory face masks, thermographic cameras and working from home, where possible, which helped keep on-site rates consistently low.

The company also invested in mass testing capability and required visiting contractors to register a negative test before entering the site, as well as at least weekly testing for all those working there.

A spokeswoman for EDF said: “Over the 13-week outage period, we carried out almost 13,000 tests and recorded 16 Covid positive cases.

“Almost all of these cases were asymptomatic and detected due to the rigorous testing regime put in place by EDF to protect those on site and in the wider community.

“The ability to identify these cases meant that workers were able to immediately self-isolate while close contacts were traced and asked not to come to site. All cases were reported to public health authorities.”

The outage, which got under way in January, also boosted the local economy, with a number of the key workers staying in local hotels.

Last year, Torness generated enough low-carbon electricity to power 2.6 million homes; more than the number of households in Scotland.

The station employs more than 500 full-time staff and about 250 full-time contract partners to ensure the safe reliable generation of electricity.