UK Public Accounts Committee criticises Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

1 March 2018

The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) "dramatically under-estimated" the scale and cost of decommissioning the Magnox sites, which ultimately led to the early termination of the 14-year contract with Cavendish Fluor Partnership formed by Babcock and Fluor, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said on 28 February.

The NDA "should set out clearly to us how it will develop and maintain the right information on the state of its sites", the committee said. The £6.1bn ($8.4bn) contract was terminated almost a year ago. NDA was accused of failing in both the procurement and management of the contract that was awarded to the wrong bidder after an “overly complex” procurement process. The company was taken to court after EnergySolutions, part of a consortium that also bid for the contract, lodged legal claims, initiating almost two years of litigation. The High Court ruled in 2016 that the NDA had wrongly decided the outcome of the procurement process, and NDA settled legal claims of nearly £100m.

The PAC said the mistakes had caused “untold reputational damage” to NDA, adding that the government must share the blame for approving the NDA's approach. The committee made a series of recommendations, including a request that NDA should update MPs within three months on its investigation into whether it overpaid its previous contractor and, if so, how it plans to recover money. NDA said it would study the committee’s recommendations and that it had already taken significant steps to address the issues arising from the Magnox competition and contract. It said “We are committed to learning from the mistakes made, implement any necessary improvements and continue to focus on the important work of cleaning up the UK’s nuclear legacy.”

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