THE site of the new nuclear power station at Bradwell is staggering in size.

Measuring the length of six football pitches, it sits on land near to the existing station, now being decommissioned.

The Standard was given exclusive access to see how work was progressing at Bradwell B.

EDF Energy and the China General Nuclear Power Group have been carrying out early site investigations into the site since December.

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One of the borehole drills, which will reach depths of 90 metres

Since then, the company has been drilling and digging sampling holes and testing the soil.

While work is underway, the project is still very much in the beginning stage.

Once all groundwork is complete proposals for what the new power station could look like will be drawn up.

Then, a huge public consultation will be held, alongside a generic design assessment, environmental assessment, and nuclear site licence being sought.

In short, we are many years away from any station being built.

But Deputy CEO of Bradwell B Jim Crawford said “construction comes secondary to safety”.

He said: “What we’re doing here is millimetre science, we’re not just digging holes.

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The drill stands tall over the borehole, which will take three weeks to finish

“All of the work being done now is absolutely critical to our research, and there is much, much more to be done.

“We’re of the benefit that EDF has already carried out work for other power stations including Hinkley C and Sizewell C. We have learned from those projects what works well and what doesn’t.”

We’re taken via Land Rover to one of the sites where a borehole is being dug. The rig is set up and will be digging its way down to 90 metres.

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Reporter Ellis Whitehouse is shown the technology for operating the drills

The process will take up to three weeks, as samples of soil are being taken at every metre.

A samples are encased in plastic tubing, before being boxed up and taken back to one of the old RAF hangers, which EDF and CGN are using as a base for personnel.

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Here, staff cut open the plastic, remove half the sample, and then photograph it with the exact metre and location on where it came from.

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This is then boxed and stored in the hanger. This will be repeated for every metre of soil at every borehole site.

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EDF and CGN are working in partnership with the farmers of the land just south of the River Blackwater, opposite Mersea Island, and the site of the former RAF base Bradwell Bay.

Mr Crawford said: “The farmers and villagers here have been immensely helpful and understanding, we hope to continue that relationship.”

For now work will continue on site, and Mr Crawford said the teams would be taking on all feedback on the project.

He added: “We don’t want to put a date on when we want this done by, because that wouldn’t be respecting the feedback we’ll be getting and the results we could find.

“It will take as long as it takes.”

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