Sellafield executives to face MPs as nuclear clean-up bill rises over £70bn


The bill for cleaning up the huge Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria will rise even higher than its current estimated level of £70bn as operators struggle to assess the full scale of the task, according to sources close to the project.The warning comes just days before private sector managers face a grilling from the public accounts committee, which is investigating activities at the facility.It was hoped that the huge bill – eight times the cost of staging the London Olympics – would be capped at £70bn, but well-placed sources have told the Guardian that the operators are convinced they are still “not at the top” of the cost curve.Sellafield is regarded as the most dangerous and polluted industrial site in western Europe, not least because it houses 120 tonnes of plutonium, the largest civilian stockpile in the world.The cost of decommissioning the Calder Hall reactor plus a magnox fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield has been rising steeply, but the biggest task comes from “ponds” and “silos” filled with old equipment and deteriorating, highly toxic waste.Nuclear Management Partners NMP, the private sector consortium that manages the site, declined to comment, but other sources said those engaged in the clean-up were still some way from knowing exactly what was in the storage facilities. “Record-keeping in the past was clearly not what it should have been,” said one.The soaring cost of decommissioning, along with the apparent inefficiency of NMP – and the £230m of dividends it has received – will come under the spotlight on Wednesday at a meeting of the public accounts committee, which is chaired by Margaret Hodge, the straight-talking MP for Barking and Dagenham.

via Sellafield executives to face MPs as nuclear clean-up bill rises over £70bn | Environment | The Guardian.