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Saliva testing at Huntly a success during lockdown

13 September 2021

Genesis Energy says saliva testing of essential workers at Huntly power station during Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4 provided assurance staff and the plant could operate safely.

Nearly 1300 samples were collected for processing between the country going into lockdown on 17 August and Huntly entering Level 2 on 8 September. Genesis Chief Operations Officer Nigel Clark says many days saw around 100 samples taken, with a peak of 120 samples on the busiest day.

“Our essential workers were happy to support each other in taking part,” said Clark. “They welcomed the step up in safety precautions to ensure Huntly continued to generate power for New Zealanders during lockdown.”

Staff members were tested the morning before the next day’s shift. Samples were sent to Rako Science’s Auckland lab, and results delivered the same afternoon. Workers were tested again once on site the next day. All results have been negative.

Sample collection was managed by 12 Genesis staff, who underwent training and gained accreditation by Rako Science in the weeks leading up to lockdown.

Saliva testing

Genesis Maintenance Delivery Manager Mike Cook (right) being trained in sample collection by Connor Grice of Rako Science. Cook was one of 12 Genesis staff to become accredited to collect samples on site that are then sent to Rako’s Auckland lab for same day analysis.

“When the borders started to open earlier this year it prompted us to set up a saliva testing regime at Huntly, so we were prepared to catch an outbreak before it threatened staff or the operation of the plant,” said Clark. “We were glad we’d prepared and could run testing self-sufficiently through Levels 4 and 3.”

Saliva testing was run in addition to other Level 3 and 4 precautions at Huntly, which included rostered bubbles of workers, keeping crews separate at shift changes, handover talks taking place via video screens, even a dedicated cleaner for the control room.

“Huntly is a critical part of New Zealand’s energy network – it simply has to keep running, and the only people who can operate it are those who work there,” says Clark. “Saliva testing gave us a level of assurance that our staff were healthy and the plant could remain operational. We’re grateful to those staff who stepped up to be trained in sample collection, and to everyone on site for being willing to take part in the testing regime.”

Media enquiries:
Estelle Sarney, External Communications Manager
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Ph 027 269 6383