UK • nuclear BNFL has been dealt yet another blow after the US Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, withdrew from a $6.9 billion contract with the company for a waste vitrification plant at Hanaford Reservation, WA. The DoE intends to re-tender the contract before the year end after BNFL more than doubled its winning bid to $15.2 billion. Richardson described the proposal as “outrageously expensive and inadequate in many ways”, although the DoE is expected to pay BNFL $200 – $300 million for its design work to date. The DoE is also conducting a review of BNFL procedures and operations in the wake of the fuel-data-falsification PR disaster in relation to its other contracts with the group. The report is not yet complete.

BNFL recently announced a series of measures that are designed to win back both public and industry confidence in its products and operations. Implemented over the next two years, the plan intends to address issues including safety, governance and general management.

Despite the moves, the UK energy minister, Helen Liddell, has admitted that plans for a partial privatisation of BNFL have been delayed by the recent setbacks. In a written report to parliament, Liddell announced that the earliest date for the introduction of any element of public-private partnership would be late 2002, after the next general election.

Whatever the future for reprocessing, a considerable portion of BNFL’s business comes from other sources and it has just completed the acquisition of ABB’s nuclear businesses.