NMP loses contract at Sellafield nuclear power plant in UK

The UK government has stripped the consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) of the £9bn contract to clean up nuclear waste at Sellafield in England.

Instead, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) are to introduce “new, simplified management arrangements” at Sellafield.

The move comes after a year-long review by the NDA of clean-up operations at the site in Cumbria, during which time NMP has been accused of delays and cost over-runs by the government’s Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Offic Sellafield nuclear waste e.

NDA chief executive John Clarke said: “This decision is the result of careful consideration and review of various commercial approaches in use where the combination of public and private sector comes together to deliver complex programmes and taxpayer value.

“I believe we can build on progress to date and drive further improvements in performance and value for money by enhancing the capability of Sellafield through a different approach.”

Ownership of Sellafield will now revert to the NDA from Nuclear Management Partners, the consortium of AREVA, AMEC and URS that took control of Sellafield in 2008.

The Sellafield board will continue to consist of existing non-executive directors and key members of the current executive team, but over time will now also see the introduction of NDA appointed directors.

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that as “Sellafield is the biggest and most complex nuclear site in Europe… it’s right that we keep the way it’s being managed under constant review”.

In a statement, NMP general manager Iain Irving said he was “surprised and naturally disappointed” at the DECC decision.

“NDA has made it very clear that it is the contractual model that it is being revised and has acknowledged the progress made by NMP over the last six years.”

Irving added that in the past year “we have seen some of the site’s highest levels of performance, whilst over the last two years, we have consecutively achieved the site’s best overall safety records”. 

“During NMP’s tenure of the contract, we have achieved savings to the UK taxpayer of over £650m and we have invested around £23m from our fee in West Cumbria, making a real difference to the local community.”

“Ultimately, we all share the same goal – the safe and secure operation of the Sellafield site.  We will be working closely with the NDA in the light of this decision to determine the way forward and ensure that the significant progress and momentum that has been built on site during the last six years continues over the coming year and beyond.”

The first reactor at Sellafield was opened in 1956 and three more followed until the site closed in 2003. Since then, clean-up work has been underway at a cost of around £80bn.

NuGen, a joint venture between Toshiba and GDF Suez, plans to build a new nuclear reactor on land near Sellafield.

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