UK sets out decommissioning plans to 2020

10 April 2017

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has published its Business Plan for 1 April 2017 to 30 March 2020. Based on the third edition of NDA's Strategy, published in April 2016, the Business Plan sets out its objectives and expected progress for all 17 of its nuclear sites over the next three years, in line with the funding agreed with the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Business Plan, which follows a public consultation that ran between 12 December to 3 February, also includes is a 20-year overview of forthcoming activities across the 17 sites.

"Our core objective is to decommission these sites safely, securely, cost-effectively and in a manner that protects the environment," the NDA said. The total planned expenditure for the financial year beginning April 2017 to financial year ending March 2018, is £3.24 billion ($4.02 billion), of which £2.36 billion will be funded by government and £880 million by income from commercial operations, it added.

Newly appointed NDA chief executive, David Peattie, said the Business Plan "includes some major milestones on the near-term horizon", adding, for example, that after many decades, all nuclear fuel reprocessing at Sellafield will draw to an end by 2020.

"Whilst it's clear we are making good progress, it would be wrong of me to shy away from mentioning some of the pressing issues that we have addressed," Peattie said.

The NDA recently announced its intention to terminate the contract, by mutual agreement, with Cavendish Fluor Partnership to manage decommissioning work at the Magnox nuclear sites across the UK. This is because the scope of the work covered in the contract is materially different from that which now needs to be delivered at the sites, Peattie said, adding, "This material variation could have left us open to risk of legal challenge."

The NDA has also concluded legal proceedings relating to claims over the placing of this contract, agreeing commercial settlements with EnergySolutions for £76.5 million plus £8.5 million in costs and Bechtel for $14.8 million plus costs of £462,000, totalling £12.5 million.

Peattie said: "These are substantial amounts but settling is the best outcome to prevent costs escalating for the public purse," adding there will be a government inquiry into what went wrong with this procurement. "The NDA will co-operate fully to understand what happened and we will implement its recommendations fully, adapting this Business Plan to account for them if necessary," he said.

During the 2016/17 financial year, the NDA has also been working with its workforce representatives to explore ways in which the government's policy on pension reform can be implemented across the NDA's estate. "We are pleased to have been able to develop a revised proposal with the recognised trade unions for affected employees to consider before any government decision is made," he said.

The milestones included in the 2017-2020 Business Plan include: a Low Level Waste Repository contract decision by 2018; the end, in 2018, of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) reprocessing schedule; all Magnox reactors defueled and fuel transferred by 2019; the Magnox site in Bradwell, Essex will become, by 2019, the first NDA site to move into Care and Maintenance phase; earlier start for retrievals from the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo by 2020; and, Magnox reprocessing due to finish by end of 2020.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News