NMP set to lose Sellafield contract
A private consortium is set to lose a multi billion pound contract to clean up the nuclear waste site at Sellafield.
The Government is tomorrow expected to announced the termination of the £9 billion contract awarded to Nuclear Management Partners (NMP).
The industrial consortium - US engineering group URS, British firm AMEC and French energy firm AREVA - has run the site for more than six years, and was granted a five-year extension in 2013, despite criticism from unions of its performance.
NMP, which employs 10,000 workers, was given a 17 year contract in 2008 in one of the UK's biggest ever public procurement deals.
The original deal included break points where it could be continued, cancelled or modified.
Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB union, said: "The termination of the NMP contract is welcome. We could not limp on any further.
"We said the contract should not have been extended in 2013. We understand the Tories overruled the NDA. The Government needs to be held to account.
"Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money have been squandered as NMP has simply failed to deliver time and time again. They have been big on promises but not on delivery.
"NMP and the Tories have failed the local community the workforce and the taxpayer. While NMP have now gone, which is great, the minister responsible for extending the contact in 2013 must be held to account."
An Energy Department spokesperson said: "Ed Davey (Energy Secretary) has been very clear that he's wanted to see more effective progress in decommissioning the biggest and most complex nuclear site in Europe, providing the best outcome for the taxpayer.
"The NDA and Government have been working with industry experts on alternative options."
Labour MP Jamie Reed, whose Copeland constituency includes Sellafield, Tweeted: "Hearing Sellafield NMP contract terminated. Inevitable, necessary and overdue."
NMP general manager Iain Irving said: "We understand that the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) has been considering whether there are alternative options to the current arrangements for managing Sellafield. It is not possible for us to make any further comment at this time.
"Notably, however, since the NDA awarded NMP with a five-year contract extension, the site has enjoyed one of its best ever periods of performance and progress. Importantly, over the last two years, we have consecutively achieved the site's best overall safety records."
Gill Wood of the Prospect union, said: "The question now is what will be the alternative?
"Prospect welcomed the extension of Nuclear Management Partners' contract in 2013 as the least disruptive of the available options given the vast costs associated with either a new competition or re-nationalisation.
"Clearly that is no longer seen as feasible. But while we wait to hear the reasons for the Government's decision the one thing that is imperative is that both operational and employment continuity and stability is maintained for both Sellafield's stakeholders and staff.
"Change always brings challenges and concerns but we call on the NDA and Government to ensure this does not raise fears among staff over their employment, spark concerns within the local community over promised development opportunities or detract from the planned decommissioning work programme."