Extra safety features are to be installed at Hinkley Point C to help protect it from storm surges and even withstand the impact of an aeroplane crash.
Engineers working on the new power station near Burnham-On-Sea have designed the new measures following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, that was triggered by a tsunami.
Details of the upgrades emerged in national media reports over the weekend. Among the major changes to be made is the installation of a 66 million gallon water tank to flood and cool the nuclear reactors in an emergency.
This is aimed at averting the kind of uncontrolled meltdown that occurred at Fukushima when pumps used to cool the reactors failed.
Hinkely Point C will also be the first nuclear power station in the country to have an outer shell designed to withstand a large plane crash, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Flood defence walls are also to be built higher around the diesel motors that drive the cooling pumps while the motors themselves will also be bigger.
Geologists have also been conducting surveys deep underground to ensure the foundations cannot be undermined by any kind of storm surge.
Nigel Cann, site construction director for the £16 billion power station, said: “Fukushima was a great tragedy, but something we needed to pay attention to. They completely got the height of their sea protection wrong and they didn’t have enough strength and depth around their electricity supplies.”
“We have done some in depth analysis to make sure we have that right. We made some changes to the design. We have made the diesel engines bigger and we have included a huge reservoir where we have a static water supply that we can use to cool the fuel.”
The plans to build Hinkley Point C were approved by the Government in October after years of delays over the future of nuclear power in Britain. However, the European Commission is conducting an inquiry into whether the deal breaches EU state aid rules and may have to be revised. This may introduce further delays.
The decision to approve the new power station contrasts with the opposition to nuclear in places like Germany where nuclear has been abandoned over safety fears following the Fukushima Daiichi accident after the tsunami in 2011.
The tidal wave knocked out the diesel pumps that sent sea water around Fukushima’s reactors to keep them cool, causing them to overheat and risking a meltdown that saw radioactive gas vented into the surrounding area.
In response, engineers have redesigned their plans for Hinkley Point C to connect a huge standing tank of water to the reactors that can flood them should a similar accident happen there.
When complete, Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear power station to be built since 1995 and the biggest in the UK — capable of powering seven million homes. Its four reactors will each drive a 1.6 GW generator, which together will account for seven per cent of Britain’s electricity supply.