Nuclear storage clean-up bill could cost £70bn

 

Britain is storing an "extraordinary accumulation of hazardous nuclear waste" in "outdated facilities" which will cost nearly £70bn to clean up, MPs have warned the Government.

Almost all of the major nuclear-decommissioning projects at the Sellafield complex in Cumbria are behind schedule and many of them are over-budget according to a Parliamentary inquiry into Britain’s “failing” nuclear-reprocessing industry.

The findings will reinforce concerns that the Government’s strategy for dealing with nuclear waste is unravelling following the refusal last week of Cumbria County Council to allow the drilling of a deep underground repository for high-level waste in the Lake District.

In a highly critical report the influential Public Accounts Committee said that of the 14 major projects at Sellafield, 12 are behind schedule and five of them are costing more than anticipated, yet the private companies running the plant are being paid handsomely without taking on any risk.

One project in particular, the plan to build a giant construction called Evaporator D to deal with liquid radioactive waste, has not been good enough and is 18 months behind schedule and almost £250m over-budget since 2009, it says.

At the same time, nuclear executives seconded from private companies are being paid “huge salaries”, averaging £690,000, by the taxpayer without any pay caps. One director was paid just over £1.2m, the report says.

The excessive payments and the way in which they are made could be seen as a “reward for failure”, the committee said.

Yet it is the taxpayer rather than the private consortium running Sellafield that has taken on the risk of delays and cost increases connected with the plant.

Sellafield is under the control of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, set up in 2005 by the Government to oversee the enormous legacy of Britain’s nuclear waste.

The site is managed by Sellafield Limited in conjunction with an international private consortium, called Nuclear Management Partners Limited.

The Government is currently about £1.5bn a year on Sellafield and the estimated lifetime cost of decommissioning the site has now reached £67.5bn.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said it was far from clear that this money was being spent wisely.

“An enormous legacy of nuclear waste has been allowed to build up and over decades, successive governments have failed to get to grips with this critical problem,” she said.

“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority believes that its decommissioning plan is credible but it has not been sufficiently tested and uncertainties remain – not least around what precisely is in the waste that lies in the legacy ponds and silos.

“It is unclear how long it will take to deal with hazardous radioactive waste at Sellafield or how much it will cost the taxpayer. Furthermore, now that Cumbria County Council has ruled out West Cumbria as the site of the proposed geological disposal facility, a solution to the problem of long-term storage of the waste is as far away as ever.

“Taxpayers will have to foot the bill. Private contractors who gain contracts take no risk because of the uncertainties that persist.  Taxpayers are not getting a good deal.”

The committee called on the Major Projects Authority to review the most critical and largest projects, and should report publicly on the progress of key risk reduction programmes against plans and budgets.

It said the authority should ensure all payments to private companies were linked to the value delivered and that payments are not made where companies had failed to deliver.

“All payments to Nuclear Management Partners, and to its constituent companies, need to be strictly controlled and determined by the value gained, so that payments are not made where companies have not delivered,” Ms Hodge added.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower