At 5pm on Wednesday the maintenance worker, Christie McCart fell 25 feet from scaffolding in the turbine hall, fracturing his pelvis. The injured worker waited twenty minutes for an ambulance and was taken to Taunton Hospital.
350 workers from the temporarily closed reactor went on strike and, on Friday morning, blockaded the entrance to the power station, calling for improved ambulance services at the plant. In the meantime the contractors, Mitsui Babcock negotiated with British Energy managers.
Eventually on Friday managers agreed to privately contract paramedics and an ambulance to give the 24 hour cover demanded by the workers. The contract will end when the current maintenance work finishes in a few weeks.
The incident took place folowing the publication of an internal British Energy report (1) slamming safety practices at the company's stations.
The Health and Safety Executive (Nuclear Installations Inspectorate) said in a recent letter to Stop Hinkley that they did not know what the safety concerns were in the report as it was internal to the company. Stop Hinkley had complained to the NII about the high frequency of safety incidents at the station in the past 18 months.
Jim Duffy from campaigning group, Stop Hinkley said: "We have been very concerned about nuclear safety at this power station following a host of emergency shut-downs and the use of a faulty radiation filter. British Energy is obviously not concentrating while it waits for the decision about its bankruptcy at the end of the month (2) and incidents like these are symptomatic. It's outrageous that BE won't give their safety report to the safety regulators."
(1) The Moares Report published in spring this year criticised staffing levels and safety equipment monitoring throughout BE stations.
(2) On September 30th the deadline falls on British Energy bond-holders and investors to agree on a financial rescue package but negotiations are well behind schedule. Then the Government may place the nuclear company in administration. Nationalisation of the company, privatised in 1996, would almost certainly follow with possible closure of certain plants. Hinkley 'B' at 27 years is the second oldest of BE's stations. In 1985 an accident at the reactor led to the release of 25 tonnes of radioactive CO2 gas into the environment, considered to be potentially the worst UK nuclear disaster since Windscale in 1957.