WHILE EDF has gone halfway by reducing the number of workers on the Hinkley C (HPC) site, the company seems reluctant to shut HPC down completely (‘HPC construction continues’, Mercury, March 24) due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

An EDF statement talked about reducing worker numbers ‘further as work already in progress is completed’, but was not specific about which work was so critical that it couldn’t be terminated now and how much longer it would carry on.

This is in stark contrast to the situation at Flamanville in France (HPC’s sister station) where EDF has stopped all but essential tasks.

EDF hides behind the fig leaf of HPC being ‘a project of critical national importance’. This is simply no longer justified. If it was okay to stop work for three weeks over Christmas and the New Year, it must be done now when the stakes are much higher than a holiday.

At the same time, EDF promised to take more effective measures on social distancing. Photographs of workers grouped in bus queues and using the canteen but clearly less than 2m apart show that this is all but impossible. 

Comments by HPC workers in Mercury online about the crush to sign in, the unsanitised fingerprint recognition system, the lack of hand sanitisers and the reluctance of site Health & Safety officials to admit the problems they face make it clear that the problems are beyond solving in the short term.

The Mercury has previously reported the mental health difficulties associated with working on projects like HPC, far from home and family support. Far better for workers to self-isolate at home rather than suffer increasing stress by feeling they have to go to work at HPC.

While local MPs seem more or less content with a reduction in the work force rather than closure, those closest to the site tell a different story. Comments from parish and district councillors in the Mercury online (‘Village neighbouring Hinkley C labels virus measures ‘unacceptable’’, March 27) make clear the growing concern of the local, particularly the elderly, population that HPC remaining open poses a significant threat to their health.
Ian Liddell-Granger MP is quoted as saying quite rightly that, “Lost time can be recovered: lost lives cannot”. The logical extension of that thought is to stop now.

As for the laid-off workers, ‘The Treasury will pay the wages of hundreds of workers building the £22.5bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station as developer EDF and its contractors slash costs,’ according to the Telegraph, March 29.

I write this not simply wearing a ‘Stop Hinkley’ hat but as a local villager in the ‘over 70’ group who is doing their best to stick to the Government’s orders on preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

It cannot be right that Hinkley C is allowed to turn into a Coronavirus time bomb on our doorsteps. Shut it down now, for all our sakes.

Stop Hinkley Spokesperson