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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Audit report exposes waste risks at Sellafield

Hazardous waste is being stored in run-down buildings at Sellafield and could pose an "intolerable risk", a watchdog has warned.

In a hard-hitting report published today the National Audit Office (NAO) also criticises the spiralling cost of plant-decommissioning and the lack of a long-term plan for waste over the last 50 years.

The NAO says Sellafield does not know how long it will take to build storage and treatment centres for the hazardous material or how much the final bill for decommissioning the plant is likely to be.

And in findings that will cause particular concern in Cumbria the report says older facilities have "deteriorated so much that their contents pose significant risks to people and the environment".

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee, said: "Projects of this length and ambition are ripe for dithering and delay.

"I am dismayed to discover the clean-up of Sellafield is no different. The authority's revised plan sees critical milestones shunted back by up to seven years.

"Hazardous radioactive waste is housed in buildings which pose 'intolerable risks to people and the environment'.

"My concern is that unless the authority holds Sellafield Limited to a clear and rigorously benchmarked plan, timetables will continue to slip and costs spiral. It is totally unacceptable to allow today's poor management to shift the burden and expense of Sellafield to future generations of taxpayers and their families."

Operator Sellafield Ltd, said it welcomed the report's findings and was "making improvements".

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