UK nuclear decomissioning costs ‘to rise by billions’

28 May 2008 – The cost of cleaning up Britain’s ageing nuclear power sites is likely to rise by “billions of pounds”, it has been reported.

In January an official report put the cost at £73bn ($145bn), a figure up £12bn on the previous estimate made in 2003, but a senior official at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said the cost would continue to escalate.

Director Jim Morse said there is a “high probability” the cost will go up in the short term.

Since the 1950s, when Britain led the way in nuclear research, radioactive waste – which remains deadly for thousands of years – has been steadily piling up, with no clear answer on how it is dealt with.

There is now a stockpile of 1345 cubic metres of high-level waste and 350 000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste – both highly toxic to humans – a consequence of Britain’s nuclear legacy and the decommissioning of old plants.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said the next generation of nuclear power stations would produce less waste than the older ones, and that the power generators would be obliged to pay for the costs. A total of 19 sites across the country are due to be dismantled over the next century.

The decommissioning sites include Magnox power stations at Berkeley in Gloucestershire, Bradwell in Essex, Chapelcross in Dumfries, Dungeness A in Kent, Hinkley Point A in Somerset, Hunterston A in Ayrshire, Oldbury in Gloucestershire, Sizewell A in Suffolk, Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, Wylfa on Anglesey and Calder Hall in Cumbria, as well as fuel facilities at Sellafield, Cumbria and Capenhurst in Cheshire.

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