Directors of nuclear power plant operators will face indefinite jail terms if they fail to keep up-to-date records of their clean-up programmes.
The threat is buried in last week's consultation paper on the establishment of funds to cover decommissioning costs in the Government new-build plan.
The document states that where a person in breach of stated programme regulations does not comply with a Government "direction", the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform can apply to the High Court.
If that person – the chief executives and directors of likely bidders for the new wave of power plants, such as Iberdrola, the Spanish utilities giant, and EDF, its French rival – then fails to comply with the High Court, they would be in contempt, which carries an indefinite prison sentence.
A source said the Government would be particularly harsh on operators not maintaining a detailed record of any changes made to its decommissioning programme. "This is over and above normal safety penalties. Fines are much more common. Anyone who decides to do something stupid will be in trouble," the source explained.Reuse content