A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of flying out to Lyon in France to visit one of EDF’s French nuclear power stations: “La central nucleaire de Bugey”. The difference in design between French and British nuclear power stations was clear from the moment I arrived in Lyon. From the top of “La Fourviere”, Lyon’s famous basilica, a huge cloud of water vapour can be seen rising from Bugey’s four cooling towers.
The visit started off by a presentation of the company and the nuclear reactor technology used by EDF. We were then able to walk around the visitor centre which has many interactive information stands, various models and fuel cell replicas. After thorough safety checks, wearing extensive Personal Protective Equipment and passing through many metal detectors and control gates, the group made it onto the nuclear power station site. Our guide walked us through the different areas of the power station and pointed out a huge decommissioned turbine whose blades had been eroded by steam over its years of operation and whose biggest disc had a diameter of over 5 meters. Walking into the 30¬oC turbine hall was a pleasure given that it was mid-December. In order to exit the nuclear power station site, we had to pass through another set of gates for radiation contamination detection which were all clear.
I was very impressed by the level of safety and security of the nuclear power station and by the friendliness of the employees showing me around. I had a fantastic time visiting my second nuclear power station and look forward to my final prize: a lunch with a station director.
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