Taxpayers face bill for nuclear reactors: A leaked report revealing the cost of demolishing old plant has added to pressure for a government review of the industry. Tom Wilkie reports

PRESSURE is increasing for the Government to hold a wide-ranging review of the nuclear industry, after a leaked report from the National Audit Office warned that taxpayers may have to meet part of the pounds 18bn bill to demolish old nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants.

The nuclear industry maintains that it is putting enough money aside from its current earnings to meet the cost of decommissioning its facilities.

Details from the NAO report confirm estimates that the cost of demolishing facilities owned by British Nuclear Fuels will amount to some pounds 6bn; Nuclear Electric's reactors will cost about pounds 7bn, and Scottish Nuclear's reactors pounds 1.5bn to demolish.

The balance, nearly pounds 3.5bn, represents the cost of decommissioning reactors and other radioactive plants owned by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Almost all of the UKAEA's figure will have to be met by the taxpayer.

However, a spokesman for Nuclear Electric said it would only need to put aside pounds 2.5bn by 1998 to meet its long-term liabilities - not the full pounds 7bn. Nuclear Electric intends to decommission its reactors over a period of 100 years or more. The first stage would be to remove highly radioactive fuel; the second would be to make the plant weatherproof and secure then to leave it for up to a century for residual radioactivity to die away.

The third, and most expensive stage, of knocking down the plant and disposing of any radioactive waste, would thus be deferred long enough for the money presently set aside to accrue interest. The Nuclear Electric spokesman said: 'You pay your money into a pension fund and when you need it, it's there and it's grown because it has earned interest.' He ruled out the possibility that the company would be asking for an extension beyond 1998 of the 'nuclear levy' on all electricity consumers in England and Wales to meet the nuclear industry's liabilities.

The issue of decommissioning destroyed the Government's attempts to privatise nuclear power with the rest of the electricity supply industry. The cost of dealing with the fuel manufacturing and reprocessing facilities finally broke hopes of privatisation.

Estimates of the cost of demolishing BNF's buildings rose 10-fold overnight: from pounds 450m to pounds 4.5bn. Most of the costs had to be met by the Central Electricity Generating Board and its Scottish counterpart, not BNFL. They have been inherited by Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear.

It also became clear that the CEGB had not put aside enough money to meet its own decommissioning costs - pounds 400m- pounds 500m per station. The then secretary of State for Energy, John Wakeham, promised that no new reactors would be built pending a full review of the industry in 1994.

Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, disclosed recently that, following the review of the coal industry, he was bringing forward the nuclear review to later this year. His department would like to limit its scope to an assessment of the market for new nuclear power stations.

However, Dr Patrick Green, from Friends of the Earth, said: 'It is absurd to talk about new nuclear power stations when we haven't decided what to do with the present ones. The leak of this report from the National Audit Office underlines the need for the Government to stick by its commitment to a wide-ranging review.'

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice