Britain is storing an “extraordinary accumulation of hazardous nuclear waste” in “outdated facilities” which will cost nearly £70bn to clean up, MPs have warned the Government.
Almost all of the major nuclear-decommissioning projects at the Sellafield complex in Cumbria are behind schedule and many of them are over-budget according to a Parliamentary inquiry into Britain’s “failing” nuclear-reprocessing industry.
The findings will reinforce concerns that the Government’s strategy for dealing with nuclear waste is unravelling following the refusal last week of Cumbria County Council to allow the drilling of a deep underground repository for high-level waste in the Lake District.
In a highly critical report the influential Public Accounts Committee said that of the 14 major projects at Sellafield, 12 are behind schedule and five of them are costing more than anticipated, yet the private companies running the plant are being paid handsomely without taking on any risk.
One project in particular, the plan to build a giant construction called Evaporator D to deal with liquid radioactive waste, has not been good enough and is 18 months behind schedule and almost £250m over-budget since 2009, it says.
At the same time, nuclear executives seconded from private companies are being paid “huge salaries”, averaging £690,000, by the taxpayer without any pay caps. One director was paid just over £1.2m, the report says.
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