Damning criticism of NMP (Nuclear Management Partners), the consortium overseeing the expensive clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, has been revealed in a series of hostile letters written by John Clarke, head of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Mr Clarke accused Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) of undermining confidence and damaging the entire project’s reputation, as well as criticising Tom Zarges, the consortium chairman, of setting “unduly conservative” targets.
The content of the letters has added to the confusion over why NMP was recently asked to continue overseeing the clean-up of one of the world’s most hazardous nuclear sites until 2019.
The harsh tenor of the letters – one of which demanded “improved performance in a number of key areas, including schedule delivery” – adds weight to suggestions that Mr Clarke did not want NMP to continue at Sellafield. The NDA looked at bringing the decontamination back under the management of the public sector.
Dr David Lowry, an independent environmental policy and research consultant and a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates, obtained the letters. He said: “This is a massive indictment of NMP’s failure to deliver – and then to give them an extension is almost inexplicable. If Clarke carries on as the chief executive he is going to have to work with NMP for another five years when he clearly doesn’t have any confidence in them. When it comes to Sellafield, it doesn’t matter how you manage it, costs are hyped up year after year.”
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