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Monday, 22 December 2014

Sellafield clean up costs spiral to £67 billion, MPs warn

To read the report in full click here 

THE projected cost of cleaning up the Sellafield site in west Cumbria and its legacy of nuclear waste has spiralled to a staggering £67.5 billion.

The figure for the total, lifetime cost, of the clean-up – which is set to continue rising – is more than the Government spent on education in the UK last year.

The staggering scale of the nuclear waste problem is revealed today by the powerful Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons in its damning report on the work of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, (NDA) the body overseeing the clean up.

The MPs highlight a catalogue of failings by the NDA, revealing how it has continued to shower millions of pounds in fees on the American led consortium that manages Sellafield Limited – despite only two of 14 ongoing clean-up projects being on track.

The report has been released just days after Cumbria County Council vetoed a plan to further investigate whether west Cumbria could host an underground dump the UK's nuclear waste, 70 per cent of which is already being stored at Sellafield.

MPs also hit out at the failure to ensure that local communities in west Cumbria benefit significantly from the £1.6 billion annual cost of running the Sellafield site.

Some were shocked to learn that in one year alone, 16 Sellafield Limited executives were paid £11 million.

More disturbingly, the MPs highlight how even the decommissioning experts involved do not yet know what radioactive waste is being stored in some of Sellafield’s storage ponds and silos.

Launching the committee’s report, chairwoman Margaret Hodge MP spoke of the “enormous legacy” of nuclear waste that had been allowed to build up at the site.

She said: “It is unclear how long it will take to deal with hazardous radioactive waste at Sellafield or how much it will cost the taxpayer.

“Of the 14 current major projects, 12 were behind schedule in the last year and five of those were over budget.

“Furthermore, now that Cumbria County Council has ruled out West Cumbria as the site of the proposed geological disposal facility, a solution to the problem of long-term storage of the waste is as far away as ever. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

The NDA, an arms length body of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, was set up in 2005 to tackle the UK's nuclear legacy.

The committee focused on its work at Sellafield because the site is what it called “the largest and most hazardous site in the Authority’s estate and home to an extraordinary accumulation of hazardous waste, much of it stored in outdated nuclear facilities.”

The site is run by Sellafield Limited, while Nuclear Management Partners were contracted to improve the site’s management and come up with a long term plan to decommission it.

The report continues: “Over several decades, successive governments have been guilty of failing to tackle issues on the site, allowing an enormous legacy to build up.

“Deadlines for cleaning up Sellafield have been missed, while total lifetime costs for decommissioning the site continue to rise each year.”

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