Letter: Paying for nuclear decommissioning

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Sir: It really is unfortunate that a Nuclear Electric spokesman should compare his company's approach to financing nuclear decommissioning with the operation of a pension fund ('Taxpayers face bill for nuclear reactors', 3 June).

It would be good if that was what they actually did, but the company has not built up a decommissioning 'pension fund'. Instead, it has taken the cash surplus generated by the pounds 1.2bn per year subsidy it receives through the nuclear levy and invested it in building a new power station at Sizewell B.

The Trade and Industry Select Committee inquiry into the market for coal found that this investment would not generate enough revenue to cover its costs, let alone contribute to the accumulated decommissioning bill.

Most companies are not allowed to invest their pension funds in their own assets because the integrity of the fund is put before the commercial expediency of the company. Most independent pension fund managers would not touch nuclear power with a 10ft pole for the reasons made abundantly clear in the National Audit Office report. Yet this is precisely what is happening in the nuclear industry.

It is time that the Government really did make the nuclear industry set up a pension fund for its retired reactors. The money should be ring- fenced and independently managed by trustees whose sole interest is

in ensuring that enough money is available to deal with the environmental and economic nightmare left in the wake of nuclear-power

generation.

Yours sincerely,

CLIVE BATES

Greenpeace

London, N1

3 June

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