The cost of decommissioning Britain’s nuclear sites, and particularly the Sellafield complex, has increased by billions of pounds. Both regulators and the government are accused of incompetence by anti-nuclear campaigners and union leaders.
The estimated cost of decommissioning the UK’s nuclear legacy over the next century has rocketed from £63.8 billion ($104.1 billion) two years ago to £69.8 billion ($113.9 billion) by Sunday, with even more increases predicted in the coming years, reports The Independent.
Most of the cost increases are down to the troubled Sellafield facility in Cumbria, which is one of the world’s most contaminated nuclear sites, and, due to its cramped area, it’s also one of the most difficult to clean up.
Despite being accused of chronic mismanagement, Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), a private sector consortium led by the Californian engineering giant, the URS Corporation, was awarded another five-year extension to run decommissioning at Sellafield by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
But an NDA spokesman defended the figures, alluding to the massive scale of work that needs to be carried out at Sellafield.
“This figure is the long-term financial position for well over a century, it’s not like the immediate costs have gone up. As we examine more and more of Sellafield, we find more and more work to do,” they said.
Dr. David Lowry, an independent nuclear research consultant, struck a more conciliatory note saying that while management was “probably incompetent” it was also “probably true” that NMP were finding more and more issues to deal with.
“That’s the thing with nuclear, the price always goes up,” he told The Independent on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy said that cost overruns are bound to be an issue in a project of such complexity spanning over 120 years.