BNFL to cease donations to US political parties

British Nuclear Fuels, the state-owned reprocessing company, yesterday announced that it was banning any further financial donations to US political parties.

The announcement followed the revelation that BNFL has paid $300,000 (£193,000) to Republican and Democrat groups in the past four years including £109,000 in the financial year just gone.

Some of the donations, channelled through the company's North American subsidiaries, were made without the knowledge of Norman Askew, BNFL's chief executive.

Hugh Collum, the chairman, said: "These payments should not have been made and they will not be made in the future."

The ban on further financial donations came as BNFL confirmed it made a £2.3bn pre-tax loss last year after a huge increase in its liabilities for decommissioning its nuclear facilities.

BNFL has taken a £1.935bn charge to cover an increase in its historic liabilities and a £375m charge to cover the early closure of its Calder Hall and Chapelcross Magnox reactors.

Despite the huge loss, the biggest in BNFL's history, Mr Askew said the underlying profitability of the group had improved markedly. Profits from operations before exceptional items were £22m compared with a £210m loss in 2000-01.

Mr Collum said he welcomed the Government's go-ahead for a new Liabilities Management Agency (LMA), which will take BNFL's £40.5bn in liabilities onto its books, paving the way for the part-privatisation of BNFL's commercial activities.

But he conceded the partial flotation of the business would not now take place until after the next election in 2006 at the earliest.

Privately, BNFL executives believe that Nirex, the body set up to find a new deep underground depository should be brought under the umbrella of the LMA. Presently Nirex is 75 per cent owned by BNFL with the remainder held by British Energy and the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Mr Collum said that nuclear power was now "firmly back on the agenda" but he conceded that a new generation of nuclear reactors would not be built until government had decided what to do with the waste produced by the current generation.

Mr Askew said the UK could take a leaf out of America's book where Congress had agreed to construct a long-term storage facility for spent fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, paving the way for new nuclear reactors.

All four of BNFL's divisions contributed to the turnaround last year. The fuel manufacturing and services division, which consists principally of Westinghouse, increased profits from £52m to £78m while its nuclear decommissioning and cleanup division turned a £66m loss into a £27m profit. The Sellafield spent fuel business increased operating profits from £3m to £32m while losses from the Magnox electricity generation division fell from £191m to £115m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before