Hunterston B nuclear plant: ‘It’s the end of an era isn’t it?’

Ex-employees and local residents reminisce about the importance of the Hunterston B nuclear plant to North Ayrshire.

Hunterston B nuclear plant: ‘It’s the end of an era isn’t it?’ STV News

As one of Scotland’s last nuclear power stations closed its doors for good on Friday, former employees Susan and John Revie struggled to keep their emotions in check.

The physicists arrived in North Ayrshire in the early 70s and worked in the same office at the plant for three years before getting married and having two children.

At the stroke of midday on Friday, Hunterston B was shut down with the simple push of a button.

It took just a matter of seconds. Once the button was pressed, control rods containing boron drove into the core, catching neutrons and halting the nuclear chain reaction that has generated power for nearly half a century.

John and Susan told STV News: “It’s been our whole lives.”

A billowing burst of steam into the sky was the most visible sign of change to the outside world on Friday, as the intense heat of the cooling reactor was released as a dense mist – a final salute as the plant went into shutdown.

John said: “Lots of people from the industry came to Scotland and haven’t left. Most of our friends haven’t left. It was the best site to work in.

“It’s very sad, it had to shut down some day. We always knew it would be the graphite that would shut it down. Although, it wasn’t cracks we thought would do it, we thought it would be weight loss.”

Susan added: “It’s been a very satisfying association and it’s done us very well.

“I feel very emotional. Although a lot of people that could be here aren’t as they’ve died, it’s still a very special place.”

Stuart Macfarlane joined the South of Scotland Electricity Board in 1986 and spent part of his time at Hunterston B as a graduate trainee.

“It’s been a very sad day,” he said. “It’s been anticipated for a long time. I’ve known it all my life, seeing the transmission lines go up during construction in the mid 70s and I never thought I’d finish my career at Hunterston.

“I’ve worked for Hunterston from central support, I’ve done work at Hunterston for the last 16 years. It’s really sad seeing something that was so much of your life coming to the end of its natural life.”

And it wasn’t just former employees feeling melancholy.

Local resident Bobby McGee said: “It’s the end of an era isn’t it? It’s something I’ve watched for any years because my family is from Millport so I’ve watched this station, I’ve friends involved in the construction of this.

“Quite something to see it go. We’ve been used to switching on a light switch and the power coming on and that’s because of this.”

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