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Sellafield legacy costs could now hit PS70bn.

Byline: David Williamson Political Editor david.williamson@walesonline.co.uk

THE cost of dealing with Sellafield's nuclear legacy is now expected to hit PS70bn, according to a cross-party group of MPs alarmed at soaring expenditure.

Aberconwy Conservative MP Guto Bebb and Blaenau Gwent Labour MP Nick Smith are among the members of the public accounts committee who will today publish a scathing report.

It states: "Progress in nuclear decommissioning and reprocessing at Sellafield has been poor. Timescales have slipped, costs have escalated substantially and reprocessing targets have been missed. Costs rise every year and the latest cash estimates for dealing with nuclear waste on the site exceed PS70bn in cash terms. Nuclear Management Partners Limited (NMP) was brought in to improve the performance of Sellafield Limited, the company that manages and operates the site."

The MPs the contract should be terminated if performance does not improve, noting NMP is "likely to earn some PS230m over the first five years of the contract".

Margaret Hodge, the Labour chair of the committee, said: "There has been a high turnover of executives and NMP has failed to train staff with the right skills and experience. Instead it used expensive NMP staff - at an average cost of PS300,000 per expert in 2012-2013."

Blaenau Gwent MP Mr Smith said: "It is shameful to see our money being squandered... of course this is a highly technical and complex project and public safety is crucial, but if this problem is not fixed, this contract should be reviewed and termination seriously considered." Aberconwy MP Mr Bebb said: "What we have here is a huge, huge black hole for public expenditure... This is one of the most damning reports I've been involved with."

Looking ahead to the prospect of a new Wylfa nuclear station on Anglesey, he said: "I think this is why it is so important that the strike price that we had agreed [is] not only for the build, maintenance and development of a nuclear power plant but the strike price is also for the cleanup process afterwards."

Stressing key differences between Wylfa and Sellafield, which also had a military role, he said: "There are undoubtedly lessons to be learned but I don't think we should crossover the view that because Sellafield is becoming a huge cost burden that should [that] that would also apply to Wylfa."

John Clarke of NDA said: "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. Whilst progress has been made on a number of fronts we will require significant improvements during the next contract period. We have had extensive discussions with NMP and made clear where these improvements must be made. "

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'A huge, huge black hole for public expenditure' - Sellafield Nuclear plant in Cumbria

Owen Humphreys
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 11, 2014
Words:476
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