View from City Road: Maintaining return on Thorp

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The Independent Online
British Nuclear Fuels remains circumspect about the prospects for its privatisation, in marked contrast to the antics of Nuclear Electric. NE's relentless PR campaign to promote its own privatisation went so far as to draw a reprimand from Tim Eggar, Energy Minister.

One can understand the frustration of the nuclear men as they gaze at the vast salaries and burgeoning share option profits being enjoyed by their former electricity industry colleagues.

But the City remains sceptical about the potential liabilities for de-commissioning worn-out nuclear power stations, in the case of Nuclear Electric, and for the cost of taking BNFL's Thorp fuel reprocessing plant out of action in the next century.

The sharp fall in BNFL's 1992/3 profits, whose publication was delayed by the consultation process over Thorp, is a reminder of how volatile the nuclear world can be. So long as BNFL can deliver its expected 9 per cent annual return on Thorp - say pounds 500m over the first 10 years - the Government should be content.