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A CATALOGUE of “appalling” mismanagement costing hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayers’ cash has been revealed by an investigation into the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The NDA handed out contracts to private firms for the decommissioning of 11 ageing Magnox nuclear reactors in British power stations, including Sellafield in Cumbria and Hinkley A in Somerset.
But the decommissioning process has been dogged by failings, including soaring costs and the inability of contractors to carry out the work.
Chaos surrounding the decommissioning process has been investigated by the MPs who form the public accounts committee, Parliament's finance watchdog, and they have laid the blame squarely at the door of the NDA and the government in a report published today.
It said the NDA “completely failed in both the procurement and management of the contract to clean up the Magnox nuclear reactor and research sites, one of the highest-value and most important contracts let by government.”
Vital nuclear decommissioning work had been disrupted, leaving the taxpayer to cough up “upwards of £122 million.”
It said the NDA chose the wrong bidder and had to fork out £100 million to settle legal claims from a losing consortium.
And “the NDA also drastically underestimated the scale of the work needed to decommission the sites at the time it let the contract — another failure which ultimately led to the termination of the Magnox contract nine years early.
“These failures have caused untold reputational damage to the NDA and raise serious questions about its credibility as a strategic contracting authority."
The report also allotted blame to the government, first for approving the way contracts were commissioned and also for not overseeing and challenging what was happening.
Committee deputy chairman Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said the “sorry state of affairs” cast doubt on NDA ability to function effectively.
“From the design and execution of the procurement process onwards, the handling of the Magnox contract has been an appalling piece of mismanagement and financial waste,” he said.
He called on the government to report on future action.
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