NUCLEAR company NuGen is about to start offshore drilling as it steps up preparations to build a nuclear power plant at Moorside, Sellafield.

It is due to give the go-ahead for plans for three Westinghouse AP1000 rectors in 2018, with construction starting two years later.

Work to assess the site is gathering pace.

NuGen began drilling at Moorside in December and will begin the first phase of off-shore drilling in the next few days.

It says the results will inform the design and layout of Moorside, and support licensing, planning applications and other consents.

The first phase involves drilling 11 boreholes into the seabed, and the collection and testing of geological samples.

This should be completed over the summer, followed by a second phase of offshore drilling to begin in the spring or summer of 2017.

The work will be carried out from a large rig, operated by specialist contractor Fugro, which will be visible from the shore.

Drilling will go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Project manager Matt Waddicor said: “The onshore element of the work is progressing extremely well, with over a third of the boreholes complete. 

“Commencing the off-shore drilling is an important milestone.

“The information we collect will help inform the various options available for the cooling water tunnels and marine offloading facility.”

NuGen’s second stage public consultation on proposals for Moorside begins on May 14. Details are available at

When fully operational, the Moorside reactors will have a combined capacity of 3.8GW, enough to power up to 6m homes.