The UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations and early research facilities have left a legacy which requires management and, as a result, the UK has a varied portfolio of facilities to decommission.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

In 2005 the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was set up to manage these decommissioning challenges. The NDA currently manages 17 sites across the UK at different stages of decommissioning. Rightly the NDA’s priority is to deal with the highest hazards and make substantial progress across all of its sites.

The challenge

The Sellafield site is probably the most well known nuclear site in the UK. This is a complex and challenging site which includes managing what is left from early nuclear research including the first prototype nuclear reactors and the UK’s early nuclear weapons programme.

The site is particularly challenging as in places there are no accurate blueprints or inventories, increasing the complexity of the work.

These challenges require innovative, unique and high tech engineering solutions and as a result the UK has become a world-leader in decommissioning and is able to export this expertise around the world.

© Sellafield Limited
© Magnox Limited

Substantial progress made across all sites

Substantial progress has been made across all sites being decommissioned in the UK. Since its inception in 2005, the NDA has developed a detailed understanding of the complex and technical challenge which exists across its sites. Its strategy prioritises the highest hazards and has made significant progress in reducing these hazards across the UK.

Government commitment to decommissioning

The NIA welcomed the Government’s commitment to the nuclear sector decommissioning in the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015. The NIA had urged the Government to adopt a strategic approach to departmental spending cuts, which balanced the need for immediate cost savings with the longer term interests of the country.

In maintaining the budget for the crucial work of the NDA, the NIA believes this approach will deliver value for the taxpayer through a progressive programme of work, rather than by a stop/start approach, which significant cuts to the budget could have resulted in.

© Sellafield Limited
© Direct Rail Services

Funded Decommissioning Programme

While the taxpayer pays for the UK’s legacy waste, under the law, all new nuclear sites will have to put money aside from the start to pay for their eventual decommissioning.

Economic benefits

The British nuclear decommissioning industry generates more than £1.7 billion of business per year for UK plc and over 21% is spent with SMEs.

More than 10,000 people alone are employed on the Sellafield site, with many more employed across the whole of the NDA estate.

© Sellafield Limited
© Magnox Limited

In order to maintain progress in decommissioning the NIA would like to see:

Cross party commitment to maintain stability for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This is vital as decommissioning is a long term activity.

We believe there should be research and development tax relief to support companies who develop new technologies to accelerate decommissioning. This would mean firms can export goods globally and contribute to UK decommissioning locally.

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