Nuclear industry chief resigns

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The chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority resigned today to take up a senior job at an energy firm in India.

Tony Fountain, 50, who joined the NDA two years ago following a 25 year career at BP, is to work for Mumbai-based Reliance Industries.

NDA chairman Stephen Henwood said: "Tony has made a huge contribution to the NDA's achievements over the last couple of years. He has reshaped the organisation to become more delivery focused, and under his leadership considerable progress has been made in our mission.

"We are disappointed to be losing him and wish him every success. The NDA's mission remains one of the most exciting and challenging roles in the public sector and we look forward to finding a suitably experienced and skilled successor, a process that has already begun."

The Prospect union expressed "shock and concern" at the decision by Mr Fountain to leave at such a "critical" time for the future of the nuclear industry.

Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: "We had a good relationship with Tony Fountain which allowed for a robust dialogue on the challenges facing the NDA and the industry. In particular, the move from micro to macro management of site license companies has been a positive development.

"His departure is not good news as it suggests policy differences. A change in strategy would be unwelcome when the industry needs stability. For example, the Government's recent decision to close the Sellafield MOX plant, on the advice of the NDA, reflects the complex issues being grappled with.

"The NDA will soon be deciding on the future construction of a MOX 2 plant as part of its consultation on plutonium options, being announced at the end of October. It is also due to choose a new parent body company to run Dounreay. An early replacement for Fountain with suitable private sector experience is essential and we expect the industry will want guarantees that NDA strategy will not be derailed."

The NDA has an annual budget of £3 billion and is responsible for decommissioning and cleaning up the civil nuclear facilities ensuring that all the waste products, both radioactive and non-radioactive, are safely managed.

Mr Henwood added: "Tony Fountain played a crucial role in taking forward our new strategy for Government approval in March this year. We now have a clear sense of direction and Tony's departure will not change that."