Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

UK’s Sellafield nuclear site gets new management

24 November — A consortium from France, Britain and the United States took over management of the Sellafield nuclear waste reprocessing facility in northwest England on Monday — part of a plan by the British government to shift costly energy operations to the private sector.

The consortium, Nuclear Management Partners Ltd., signed a five-year contract to run the nuclear waste facility, with an option to extend it for another 12 years, according to the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns Sellafield.

The consortium includes Washington International Holdings Ltd. of Seattle, AMEC PLC of London and AREVA NC of Paris.

Previously, Sellafield was managed by public company British Nuclear Fuels, but the British government wanted to cut operations costs through outsourcing management.

“They will do more work more efficiently than the public company did,” said Bill Hamilton, a decommissioning authority spokesman.

The contract allows the government to pay the consortium anywhere from zero to £50m ($75m) a year, depending on the amount of money the facility generates.

Sellafield is one of few reprocessing plants worldwide that collects spent fuel cells from nuclear power plants across Europe and Japan and extracts the unused plutonium and uranium so it can be used in another fuel cycle. It also is responsible for safely storing the waste that cannot be reprocessed.