A state-of-the-art £400 million waste incinerator which will supply chemical giant Ineos with up to 20 per cent of its energy is preparing to test its equipment.

Viridor, the company running Runcorn Thermal Power Station, wants to alert people living nearby of unexpected loud noises they could hear.

Steam blowing, a process which cleans out the pipes, will sound like a loud rumbling noise and produce a visble steam plume which could be seen from Widnes.

Viridor general manager Roy Griffin, aged 41, said: “A sudden noise begins and steam appears. It is quite shocking if you are not expecting it. If you are walking your dog past the site you will notice a significant change quickly.

“We are passing steam through the system, looking for particles of dust or disolved solids.

“There will be a number of blows every day. We will restrict it to 9am to 5pm.”

The steam blowing is due to start on February 4 and continue for two weeks.

The first deliveries of refuse derived fuel will start next month to test the crane systems and railheads before being processed at the energy from waste facility.

To begin with, 400,000 tonnes of pre-treated waste a year will be processed. This figure could double when the plant is fully operational in late 2015.

Mr Griffin said: “I would be absolutely astonished if people weren’t apprehensive. It is a perfectly normal reaction but I can reassure the local community there is nothing to worry about.

“We will host open days and bring in schools.

“This is a very expensive piece of equipment worth having in the local environment and economy.”

The plant will eventually employ 80 people.

Mr Griffin added:”Currently we have 40 on site. Most are local, one shift team leader lives 500 yards from the plant. Another 18 people operate the railhead.

“We will be recruiting an additional 20 people for phase two and have three vacancies for engineers.

“I am hoping that many of our supply chain and service contracts will provide work for local firms.”

Three current vacancies are for a control and instrumentation technicial, a mechanical technician and an electrican technicial.

Visit www.viridor.co.uk/about-us/working-for-us/current-vacancies for details. Closing date is January 20.