Anti-nuclear forces and union leaders have accused government and regulators of incompetence that has led to yet another huge price hike for decommissioning nuclear sites.
According to The Independent, clean-up estimates have jumped from £63.8 billion ($104.1 billion) in 2012 to £69.8 billion ($113.9 billion) today. Future price hikes are expected.
Decommissioning costs were publicized by the Labour Party based on a new report by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Most of the costs are attributed to problems at the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria, “one of the world's most hazardous and fiendishly complicated decontamination sites”. The site is especially hard to clean up due to its “cramped area” and the need to demolish more than 1,000 buildings.
The Independent points to the lack of government intervention when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) created controversy by awarding a five-year contract to the private sector consortium, Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), led by the URS Corporation of California.
“NMP had been accused of chronic mismanagement after a series of delays and budget overruns on Sellafield projects, including problems involved in the construction of a storage facility for radioactive sludge”.
Sellafield, originally known as Windscale, was a munitions factory during the Second World War, and then became Britain's first nuclear complex in the late 1940s. It started generating electricity in 1956.
Independent research consultant Dr. David Lowry affirms that management was “probably incompetent,” but also believes that new issues are probably arising for NMP to handle.
“That’s the thing with nuclear, the price always goes up,” says Lowry.