As Nuclear Management Partners approaches the end of its time as parent body for Sellafield Ltd, its General Manager - Iain Irving - looks back at the challenges and successes of the last eight years and thanks West Cumbria for its support. 

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In 2008, and in the face of competition from a number of global consortia, Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) was appointed the Parent Body Organisation to own and operate Sellafield Ltd and bring leadership and performance improvement to one of the world’s most challenging nuclear sites.

The consortium, comprising American corporation URS, international energy company Amec Foster Wheeler and AREVA, the French energy giant, brought global expertise and resources to lead and support Sellafield’s highly skilled workforce.

It was widely accepted however that, making improvements at one of the world’s most challenging nuclear sites and progress in the clean-up activities was an enormous task and would not be achieved overnight.

But, under the ownership and leadership of NMP, the Sellafield Ltd workforce has delivered many achievements, most notably in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) priority area of high hazard reduction.

NMP General Manager Iain Irving admits that it has not been an easy journey and not everything has always gone according to plan. But he points to an impressive list of successes – both in terms of site improvements and socio-economic benefits across West Cumbria. Iain is confident that this legacy will endure long after the ownership of Sellafield Ltd transfers to the NDA on 1 April.

“We can all be proud of the achievements at Sellafield over the last eight years” he said.

“It would be wrong to say that absolutely everything has gone the way we wanted it to but there have been substantial achievements on the site. This was recognised by former Secretary of State Edward Davey, who at the time of the announcement to change Sellafield’s ownership arrangements, thanked NMP for its support in ‘stewarding Sellafield through a crucial stage of delivery and planning’. Much thanks and praise for this of course goes to the Sellafield Ltd workforce - one of the best in the world.”

The latest achievement at Sellafield came just weeks ago, as Sellafield Ltd took a major stride forward in its 100 year mission to clean up the site.

Iain Irving said: “Removing the last of the bulk stocks of historic nuclear fuel from the historic Pile Fuel Storage Pond is the most visible sign yet of progress to clean up the legacy of Britain’s early nuclear industry and is probably one of the most significant successes at Sellafield in many years.”

Other key achievements over the last seven years at Sellafield include – 

  • The site’s best ever overall safety performance 
  • Efficiency savings of over £715m 
  • First returns of High Active Waste to countries of origin 
  • Completed the first decommissioning of a power-producing nuclear reactor 
  • First ever retrievals of radioactive sludge removed from legacy ponds 
  • Extending the life of the High Active Waste Evaporators to support Thorp reprocessing 
  • Providing the NDA and Government with a much greater understanding of the true extent of the challenges and risks associated with the site, as detailed in the Sellafield Plan 

Away from the site, NMP has also made its mark in the area. Its socio-economic programme has delivered significant support to a range of economic and community initiatives across West Cumbria.

Iain adds: “We have invested over £25m into socio-economic projects and charitable organisations in West Cumbria.

“This is money taken directly from the fee earned by NMP and used to fund important projects like Albion Square in Whitehaven and the container handling facility at the Port of Workington, as well as community events like the Whitehaven Festival.

“In addition we have seen the site’s annual expenditure in the local supply chain increase by around £100m, whilst the annual intake of apprentices since 2008 has almost trebled.

“We feel privileged to have been able to work alongside people, charities and businesses who have the interests and prosperity of West Cumbria at their heart. We hope the projects that we have helped to deliver continue to support the people and economy of the region for many years to come.

“Of course we are sorry to go,” said Iain. “But we leave feeling proud to have played a significant part in a chapter of the Sellafield journey. We will take with us fond memories of the support we have received from the community in West Cumbria and we would like to thank the Sellafield workforce for all the achievements they have made during our time here.”