Sellafield 'needs extra £276 million of taxpayer’s money to complete UK's biggest nuclear construction project'
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 30 May 2012
The company in charge of running Britain’s nuclear reprocessing operation at Sellafield in Cumbria said today that it needs an extra £276 million of taxpayer’s money to complete the single biggest nuclear construction project in the UK.
Sellafield Ltd said that the final costs of building the Evaporator D complex to handle Britain’s liquid nuclear waste will need to be increased from £397m to between £599m and £673m. This is more than six times the original estimate for the project.
Sellafield Ltd also said that the schedule for completing the enormous project, which involved the construction of 11 house-sized modules on Merseyside and shipping them to Cumbria, has slipped to February 2016, six years later than originally planned.
The extra costs of completing the project will wipe out the company’s efficiency savings of £182m and come on top of the £1.34 billion wasted on the Sellafield Mox Plant, the troubled nuclear fuel plant that had to be closed last year in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Evaporator D was originally planned to cost about £100m and was supposed to be completed by 2010 to replace the three existing evaporators at Sellafield, which reduce the amount of liquid nuclear waste by allowing the evaporation of water.
The delayed completion date of 2016 for Evaporator D threatens to disrupt the operating timetable of Sellafield’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp), which is scheduled for closure in 2018 and lies at the heart of the site’s massive reprocessing operation.
Many tens of millions of pounds extra will have to be spent on Thorp if Sellafield was forced to keep it operating longer than planned, according to some industry observers. However, Sellafield has insisted that its reprocessing operation is still on schedule despite the delays in finishing Evaporator D.
Following a major review of the Evaporator D project, Sellafield Ltd said that it needs the extra cash to complete the construction and will seek formal approval from the Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is the legal owner of the site.
“Following the completion of our review into the project we now have a firm understanding of the issues the project has faced and a clear understanding of how they can be rectified,” Sellafield Ltd said in a statement released last night.
“We have learned from this experience and we are actively addressing lessons for Sellafield Ltd and the supply chain,” it added.
The NDA said that the request for more funds to complete Evaporator D will now go through formal governance processes, including Government approval, before it can endorse the new budget and the revised delivery schedule.
“The NDA continues to closely monitor performance at Sellafield and hold our contractors to account as necessary,” the NDA said in a statement.
“Any increase in costs attributable to Evaporator D will have to be managed within the existing Comprehensive Spending Review settlement, and as such there will be no additional calls on the public purse. The work programmes detailed in the Sellafield Plan remain fully funded,” it added.
The NDA said that a number of “strategic initiatives” and efficiency savings, such as the clean-up of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Scotland, have enabled it to save more than £2.6bn of taxpayer’s money over recent years.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...