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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Sellafield nuclear site is risk to public

SELLAFIELD’S delayed plans to replace ageing nuclear waste facilities pose “significant risks” to the population and face “considerable” uncertainty, a public spending watchdog warned today.

The plant’s owners do not know how long it will take to build storage and treatment centres for the hazardous material or how much the final bill is likely to be, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

For more than 50 years operators failed to plan how to dispose of the radioactive waste and some of the older facilities have “deteriorated so much that their contents pose significant risks to people and the environment”, the report said.

Progress in 12 of the 14 major buildings and equipment projects considered “critical” for reducing risk, which range in cost from £21m to £1.3bn, failed to achieve what they were supposed to and had not provided good value for money, the NAO said.

Its report found there “is still considerable uncertainty in the schedules and costs” of the projects.

A long-term plan to clean up the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority-owned site, which is managed by Sellafield Limited, was agreed last year after an earlier one stalled.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “These criticisms are largely deserved and for the most part fair, but they are not new and nobody understands them better than the Sellafield workforce and the NDA.

“Not simply because of the near economic depression, but as a matter of principle, every penny of public money should be spent wisely and effectively and this has not always been the case at Sellafield.”

Around 240 of Sellafield’s 1,400 buildings are nuclear facilities and so far 55 buildings on the site have been decommissioned.

The NDA, in a statement, welcomed the NAO report and said it recognised the progress made so far in tackling Sellafield’s “hazardous legacy” at “Europe’s most complex industrial site, where facilities, equipment and materials date back to the 1940s and 50s”.

The NDA’s response continued: “The report acknowledges that NDA continues to take appropriate action to improve
Sellafield’s performance on major projects and its own capacity to oversee delivery, whilst rightly pointing to some examples where project delivery is not yet at the level of performance we or our contractor are striving for.

“The NDA, as the client, will continue to work closely with Sellafield and NMP to improve capability and performance.”

Have your say

What has to be remembered is that the Sellafield site was once Windscale, generating material for Atomic Bombs.

This left a legacy of ponds, silos to provide storage for materials classified as to their classification. Over the years the legacy changed ownership from the Ministry of defence/Windscale to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The safety standards at Sellafield are extremely high. Various committees were set up to ensure that the many projects carried out adhered to the strict site safety regulations.

The site is under scrutiny from all angles but managed professionally with the emphasis always on Safety. I worked at Sellafield until September of 2011, albeit in a sedentary manner as a Cost Engineer.

I worked alongside blue collar workers as well as some white collar workers supervising decommissioning of one of the assessed major risks at Sellafield. Never did I ever feel unsafe and I considered myself honoured to work with.

Admittedly some of the buildings which are used as offices either need improvement or replacing.

Whilst the site

Posted by Ex Sellafield Worker on 7 November 2012 at 16:27

What a complacent response from the NDA to a report that condemns their lack of success!

Posted by RC30 on 7 November 2012 at 15:19

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