An agreement has been made which will result in the transfer of Sellafield shares from former giant BNFL to a new international management consortium.
|The Dry Laboratories of Sellafield MOX
Plant (Image: INS)
The change is part of a drive for efficiency and value-for-money at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which is in charge of cleaning up all of Britain's current civilian nuclear power and research facilities.
The 'transition agreement' concludes the competitive process by which Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) was chosen to run Sellafield Ltd. The NDA said there is now a "contractual relationship" between it and NMP, which will officially become Sellafield's 'parent body' on 24 November - at the same time as a transfer of Sellafield shares from BNFL to NMP.
NMP is made up of Washington International Holdings, Amec and Areva. From 24 November it will take over the operational and decommissioning work at Sellafield, one of the largest nuclear sites in the world. The contract is worth a whopping £1.3 billion ($2.3 billion) per year, with scope for a £50 million ($88 million) bonus for performance and efficiency.
The Sellafield sites represent the heart of the UK nuclear industry. Among their 1000 facilities are the first full-size nuclear power plant in the world, Calder Hall, as well as the Thorp used nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP), which recycles recovered uranium and plutonium into new reactor fuel.
An improvement in performance at SMP would be a major result for NMP - the plant currently produces only three tonnes of heavy metal product per year, compared to a design target of 120 tonnes. Revenue from fuel cycle operations at Sellafield goes back the UK government, which in turn considers funding levels for the NDA.