“ Nuclear Power Station located in Sizewell Visitor Centre, Sizewell Power Station, Nt. Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4UR „
If you are in Suffolk and feel like a very different day out, then why not visit the Sizewell nuclear power stations. We did and it was one of the most interesting visits I have ever made. Until recently you could just turn up at the Visitor Centre and see the exhibition and arrange a tour of the power station, however the arrangements for visits have now changed. You now need to book a visit and a tour in advance and the party needs to be of at least six people. When you visit the site you will be shown around the exhibition and given a short interesting talk about nuclear power and the history of the power stations on this site. You will then be taken on a tour of the nuclear power station. If you are at all interested in engineering or the energy industry then you will really enjoy this visit. However, you don’t need any prior knowledge and children will find the whole experience really fascinating. The guides that take you on the tour have a vast knowledge of the industry and the power station and make you feel very welcome and are happy to answer any questions that you may have. You will be taken around the station to see all the major parts, including the reactor house, the turbine room and the control centre. Viewing galleries have been built for the visitors, but I was surprised as to just how close to everything you are taken. Throughout the visit you are required to wear an identity badge, which is also a radiation monitor. We were told these were analysed after the visit and if any anomalies were found then you would be contacted! (Just something to make you worry for a few weeks after your visit). They did assure us by telling us that no visitor (yet!) had needed to be contacted. The reactor house is amazing. It appears so peaceful and tranquil, yet you realise that a few feet below you a nuclear reaction is taking place that is so powerful that it can produce electricity for thousands of homes. After leaving the reactor area all visitors and workers are required to pass individually through a radiation monitoring booth to check that there is no radiation dust on either you or your clothes. These look like a metal shower cubicle, with signs on the floor and walls as to exactly where to place your hands and feet. After about 20 seconds you either see a green light for OK, or a red light. This does seem a very, very long 20 seconds, and everyone breathes a great sigh of relief when the green light appears. However, there always seems to a slight desire for somebody else to get a red light, just so we could see what would happen. The tour continues around the rest of the site where you see how the steam that has been generated from the reactor heat is used to turn the turbines, which turn the generators, which produces the electricity. The tours are all free and helmets and protective shoes are provided for you. If you want to book a visit then you have to ring the Visitor Centre beforehand during normal office hours on: 01728 653890. There is a much better chance of getting a visit during the week, rather than at a weekend. Sizewell is on the Suffolk coast near the small town Leiston. When planning your visit give yourself plenty of time for the journey, as the roads to the nuclear station are mostly country lanes, passing through small villages. This may seem like a very unusual family day out, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and I would highly recommend it to other families. (You do stop glowing in the dark after a few weeks).