The UK government has cancelled the contract held by private consortium Nuclear Management Partners to clean up the nuclear waste site at Sellafield.
The withdrawal of the £9bn contract follows recommendations from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to change the way the site was managed. UK secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey commented that these changes "are the best way forward". He confirmed that Nuclear Management Partners have lost ownership of Sellafield ltd, and that the site will now effectively fall under the ownership of the NDA.
"Under the new arrangement, Sellafield Limited will become a subsidiary of the NDA and ... led by a ... team ... appointed and governed by a newly-constituted Board of the Site Licence Company"
He further commented that the "safe and secure operation of the Sellafield site" will remain a priority. "The new model will, in due course, see a strategic partner appointed by Sellafield Ltd, to strengthen the programme management and commercial capability at the site, as well as playing a key role in managing capital projects and contracts," he added. Transition to the new arrangements is expected to take 15 months.
The background to this change involves accusations from the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office that NMP are guilty of cost overruns and delays.
NMP, which includes British and French energy firms Amec and Areva as well as US engineer URS, has run the site for more than six years. NMP was originally granted the decommissioning job in 2008, and employs 10 000 workers on the site. Despite criticism of the way the site was managed, NMP's contract was extended for a further five years in 2013.