Consortium selected for UK National Nuclear Laboratory

24 March 2009

A consortium of Serco, Battelle and the University of Manchester has been selected as the Recommended Bidder to run the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) after a five month competition process.


NNL Sellafield Central Laboratory (Image: NNL) 
NNL's flagship Sellafield laboratory (Image: NNL)

UK Energy and Climate Change minister Mike O'Brien, announcing the Recommended Bidder on behalf of the UK government, said the group had an important task ahead of it. "With new nuclear power stations in the UK coming forward by 2018, and decommissioning of old sites progressing, the National Nuclear Laboratory will be an increasingly important facility," he said.


Indeed, the UK government foresees the NNL as an international centre of excellence in nuclear research and development contributing both to the cleanup of the UK's nuclear waste legacy and also contributing to the country's new build programme. QQEST, a joint venture between QinetiQ and Energy Solutions, was the other party involved in a competitive dialogue process with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which began in October 2008.

The winning consortium brings together global management services company Serco, independent research and development organization Battelle, and the University of Manchester, which is itself a recognized centre of excellence in nuclear research. All have extensive nuclear sector experience. Battelle's Mike Lawrence, whose 40 years of nuclear experience includes management of the Hanford Reservation in the USA and a former role as a US representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will be Managing Director of the new NNL management team.

The contractor will be tasked with providing strategic vision and management to the NNL, and developing it as a stand-alone business. There will be options to extend the initial three-year contract, expected to be finalised by 1 April, by up to two years.

The NNL was formally launched in July 2008 as the successor to Nexia Solutions. It is to be operated under the so-called GOCO (Government Owned Contractor Operated) model. As part of the wind-down of BNFL, ownership of NNL is due to transfer to the UK government on 1 April 2009 at the same time as the new contract with the management consortium is expected to come into effect.

Describing itself as a nuclear services technology provider covering the whole of the nuclear fuel cycle, NNL operates at six locations in the UK, and already counts the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd, Westinghouse, the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), VT Nuclear and British Energy amongst its customers. It also has extensive links with academia, recently adding collaborative agreements on waste immobilisation and disposal with the University of Sheffield and on nuclear materials research with the University of Manchester to its portfolio.