We have made good progress towards implementing the recommendations laid down by the PAC following its original report into Sellafield last year and will now focus on achieving the aims of the six recommendations set out in this latest report.
Both NMP and the NDA now have a much better understanding of the issues and complexities that exist at the site and the challenges that lie ahead. Whilst progress has been made on a number of fronts we will require significant improvements during the next contract period. We have had extensive discussions with NMP and made clear where these improvements must be made. We will continue to monitor performance closely and remain focused on achieving our goal of safe, effective, value for money decommissioning at Sellafield – as we are seeing elsewhere across our portfolio of sites.
The NDA announced in October 2013 that it had decided to extend the contract with NMP into a second five year term, the consortium having won a 17 year contract in 2008 to be the parent body organisation for Sellafield Ltd (the Site Licence Company that actually operates the site).
In presenting evidence to the committee John Clarke explained that the UK has a difficult and complex legacy to manage, particularly at the Sellafield site. Sellafield was recognised to be the most challenging site because of its complexity, the scale of the radiological hazard, and the fact that most of the early plants were experimental facilities that were not built with decommissioning in mind. It is also a congested site, where decommissioning has to be carried out alongside significant ongoing operations.
John Clarke acknowledged that performance at Sellafield had not been as good as expected, but stated that there had been progress and that the site was in a better place now than when NMP took over. After rigorous consideration the NDA had concluded that giving NMP further time to bring about improvements at the site was the best option at this time to give the best probability of delivering further progress.
John Clarke stressed that the NDA continues to focus on resolving the underlying issues at the site and has set out clear expectations of NMP for the second contract term. Safe stewardship of the Sellafield site, consistent levels of high operational performance and significant improvements in the delivery of major projects are the key priorities, with the NDA continuing to monitor progress closely and ensuring that fees are only paid on performance.