NMP consortium retains Sellafield contract

07 October 2013

Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) will continue to manage and operate the UK's Sellafield nuclear site after the country's Nuclear Decommissioning Agency announced a five-year extension to the consortium's contract.

Sellafield (Sellafield Ltd)_460
Sellafield: large, complex, challenging (Image: Sellafield Ltd)

The NDA awarded the URS-Amec-Areva joint venture a parent body contract for Sellafield Ltd in 2008, giving it the responsibility for the management and operation of reprocessing and waste storage facilities at Sellafield, the closed-down Calder Hall and Windscale nuclear reactors, and an engineering and design centre at Risley. The initial five year contract, which included an option for periodic extensions up to a maximum of 17 years, expires in March 2014. The value of the extended contract has not been announced, although annual expenditure at the site currently totals some £1.8 billion ($2.9 billion).

A former ordnance factory, Sellafield became a nuclear site in 1947. Today it is one of Europe's largest and most complex nuclear sites, storing and treating wastes from civil and military programs, and is the top priority in the UK government's nuclear decommissioning program. Describing Sellafield as the NDA's most complex and challenging site on the agency's books, NDA CEO John Clarke said that the decision to extend NMP's contract had been based on reviews of progress and performance to date, but added that NMP would be expected to deliver "significant improvements" in the coming period. "Both NMP and the NDA now have a much better understanding of the issues and complexities that exist at the site and the challenges that lie ahead ... We will continue to monitor performance closely," he said.

NMP chairman Tom Zarges said the first five years of the Sellafield contract had presented a "steep learning curve" with "unprecedented" challenges, but acknowledged the need for improvement. "Over the last five years, we have learned an enormous amount about the challenges of the site and the areas that we need to focus on looking forward. Our job now is to use the experience we have gained to efficiently deliver our customer's mission," he said.

Consortium members URS, Amec and Areva all issued statements welcoming the contract extension and pledging to remain focused on delivering value for money while speeding up clean-up work. "We understand the unique challenges of this site, and are focused on delivering value while safely accelerating the clean-up of Sellafield," said URS CEO Martin Koffel, while AMEC European Clean Energy president Clive White said the company would focus on clean-up of high-hazard legacy ponds and silos, an acknowledged priority at the site.

Sellafield Ltd managing director Tony Price said the extension to NMP's contract provided "clarity and stability" for the site. Recent years have seen Sellafield Ltd, under NMP's leadership, award several long-term "super-contracts" worth billions of pounds to support decommissioning at the site.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News