Less than a month before Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) was stripped of its contract, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) warned the government that it risked losing “credibility” if it allowed a US-led consortium to continue overseeing the detoxification of Sellafield in Cumbria.
Cleaning up the site’s historic radioactive contamination is considered one of the world’s most hazardous and toughest nuclear jobs. But there had been frustration with NMP’s performance since it won the contract in 2008, with the projected cost now almost £80bn.
In a letter to Stephen Lovegrove, the permanent secretary of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), NDA chief executive John Clarke, warned:
“Remaining with the status quo […] potentially poses significant risks to NDA’s and DECC’s credibility should we continue with the current model […] growing evidence it does not represent best value for money”.
Mr Clarke was damning of NMP’s work in a number of areas, including its corporate governance and failing to implement “consistent and focused and processes and practices”.
“In short, NDA’s desired outcomes for Sellafield are not being delivered to the extent that I, as accounting officer, or the NDA’s board believes is necessary.”
Mr Clarke ruled out replacing the US consortium with an alternative private sector group, warning that:
“The level of fee that may need to be paid to attract alternative suppliers into a more onerous contract is unlikely to be defensible on value-for-money grounds”.
The NDA believes that NMP will be a “good leaver”, but has put in place precautions in case it becomes a “bad leaver” over the next 15 to 18 months.
In reply, Mr Lovegrove approved the changes on 12 January, urging that a “robust implementation plan” needed to be ready quickly.
Read the original article by Mark Leftly in The Independent