Controversy never seems far away from the decommissioning of the ten Magnox and two research sites. It now appears that the NDA has substantially underestimated the level of decommissioning work required at the sites to such an extent that the contract in place with a Babcock subsidiary is now due to be terminated in around two years’ time.
The tender process which put the contract with Babcock in place has hit the headlines a bit too often for the government’s liking with a successful legal challenge against the tender process and a not too quiet a criticism of the resulting £100 million settlements which, of course, will be borne by the tax payer.
The Energy Secretary has confirmed that the NDA will use the intervening two year period to prepare a new tender process. However, given the continuing controversy that continues to nip at its heels, I would not be surprised to see the NDA decide to directly manage the Magnox contract in the same way as the Sellafield contract.
Certainly there will be an enormous amount of pressure from the public and the government’s opposition to resume public ownership which directly conflicts with the government’s policy of privatisation. If a tender does go ahead, many a critical eye will be going through the process with the finest of fine tooth combs.
In 2012 the NDA ran a tender process for the work, awarding it to CFP two years later. However, when the partnership started work to assess exactly what needed to be done, the Government said it “became clear to the NDA” that there was “a significant mismatch between the work specified… and the work that actually needs to be done”. On Monday the government said that so much extra work is required that the NDA has decided it amounts a material change to the specification given in 2012, throwing the current deal into jeopardy.