Management of nuclear decommissioning at Sellafield is to be taken back into state hands because the toxic waste site is too complicated to be run by the private sector, Ed Davey, the energy secretary has said.
Mr Davey on Tuesday confirmed that Nuclear Management Partners, the consortium of Amec, Areva and URS, had been stripped of its £20bn contract to run the Cumbrian site, with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority taking over the reins.
He conceded that NMP’s performance had “not been good enough” ahead of the NDA’s decision to continue its contract last year, but denied that this was the reason it had now lost the deal.
Mr Davey said that the publicly-funded work at Sellafield was simply not suited to private sector management because the “huge uncertainties” and complexities at the site made it “very difficult” to draw up contracts specifying what was required of management companies.
Sellafield is home to the majority of the UK’s nuclear waste, much of it housed in ponds and silos constructed in the 1940s and 50s. The eventual clean-up is expected to take more than 100 years and cost in excess of £79bn.
Tom Greatrex, Labour’s shadow energy minister, accused the Government of “a frantic U- turn, an abandonment of the extension of a contract and the reversal of a decision that should probably never have been taken in the first place”.