The chairman of the American-led consortium that runs Britain’s largest nuclear complex at Sellafield was forced into a humiliating apology on Wednesday after admitting a raft of cost overruns, performance failures and an expenses scandal.
Tom Zarges, the head of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), said he was a “long way from satisfied” by the track record of the business after it was pilloried by members of the Commons public accounts committee.
“We are humbled and truly sorry for any of those events which have cost British taxpayers money,” said Zarges, who insisted nevertheless that NMP was “not about earnings”, but about performance. “While we have had achievements we are not satisfied with those achievements. We are a long way from satisfied,” he added.
The Guardian reported this week that the bill for cleaning up the Cumbria site will rise even higher than its current estimated figure of £70bn as operators struggle to assess the full scale of the task.
Zarges was forced onto the defensive after MPs quoted extensively from a review prepared by auditing firm KPMG for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the public body charged with overseeing NMP and Sellafield.