Cost of clearing Suffolk nuclear plant set to soar to nearly £1bn
PUBLISHED: 10:38 04 October 2010
The estimated cost of clearing the Sizewell A nuclear power station site on the east coast is now a massive £927m, according to new figures.
Taxpayers will pick up most of the bill because the twin reactor plant, as well as 20 other reactors around the country, are state-owned - some by the Ministry of Defence for the production of weapons-grade plutonium.
The cost of decommissioning all of the UK’s first-generation Magnox nuclear power stations, together with research facilities and the reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, is presently expected to be £37.1billion.
Four years ago, the estimated cost of clearing the decommissioned Sizewell A site was £870m.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said that costs changed over time and were constantly being reassessed.
The NDA’s only income is from two Magnox power stations elsewhere in the country, which are still generating electricity, and land sales which have already raised £400m. But it has huge liabilities in terms of clearing nuclear sites.
Current cost estimates were revealed at a meeting in Saxmundham, hosted by the Sizewell Stakeholder Group, at which the NDA - set up by the government to supervise the site clearances - mapped out its draft strategy for the next five years.
About £36m is being spent at Sizewell A this financial year, but there are fears that scheduled spending there and at other sites over the next few years will be slowed as a result of the NDA’s budget being cut. An announcement is expected on October 20.
Under current plans, all the Sizewell spent fuel will be removed from the reactor by 2013.
Demolition of ancillary buildings will continue until 2034 when the site will be moth-balled in a “care and maintenance” phase - to allow radioactivity levels to subside. Final site clearance work is due to start in 2088 and last for 10 years.
After the meeting, NDA official Richard Mrowicki said that the final use of the Sizewell site would be decided by the local community and the local planning authority. But the decision might have to be taken by a future generation.
“Views change over time and it is just too early to be making definite decisions,” he said.
Members of the public have until November 24 to comment on the NDA’s draft strategy. It can be accessed via its website at www.nda.gov.uk/consultations