The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced March 21st that its latest strategy has been approved by the UK Government and the Scottish Ministers. Due for publication later this month, the statutory document will set out the NDA’s direction for delivering the nuclear clean-up programme over the next five years.

Lord Marland, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Energy and Climate Change, said in a statement, “Tackling the nuclear legacy is an absolute priority. I am keen to see it dealt with vigorously. It is fundamental that we tackle this legacy rather than leave it to future generations. As such I thoroughly endorse this Strategy and the work being done by the NDA.”

Stephen Henwood, NDA Chairman said, “We have a coherent Strategy, and a high level of support from Government to tackle what is a complex legacy dating back in some cases to the 1940’s and 50’s. We have restructured the industry to bring in private sector partners to improve delivery, and we have extracted value from our assets including the sale of land adjacent to our sites to new nuclear developers. I am increasingly confident about the credibility of the plans in place across the estate and our focus is now firmly on their efficient delivery.”

The NDA was set up in April 2005 to establish a detailed understanding of the UK’s civil nuclear legacy sites and to oversee a safe and effective programme of decommissioning and clean-up. NDA describes its role as the ‘strategic mind’ responsible for the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK’s civil public sector nuclear sites. The Energy Act (2004) requires NDA to publish a strategy document at least every five years. The first such document was published in March 2006. NDA says that Strategy review and development is an ongoing process and options for delivering the strategy are evolving continually.

NDA published a draft strategy document for consultation in September 2010.

It identified six strategic themes:

Site Restoration defining approach to decommissioning and clean-up of redundant facilities and management of contaminated ground and groundwater.

Spent Fuels defining approach to managing the diverse range of spent nuclear fuels including Magnox, oxide and exotic spent fuels.

Nuclear Materials defining approach to dealing with the inventory of uranics and plutonium currently stored on sites.

Integrated Waste Management – management of all forms of waste arising from operating and decommissioning sites.

Business Optimisation – maximising commercial income

Critical Enablers supporting the overall delivery of NDA mission

Following a 12 week consultation period, stakeholder views, feedback and responses informed the drafting of the final Strategy which was submitted to Government in February 2011 for endorsement by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Scottish Ministers

Tony Fountain NDA Chief Executive said in a statement on March 21, “Our Strategy provides us with a clear view of our 10 to 20 year priorities and the scope of work across our 19 sites. The NDA is a small strategic authority; key to our success is translating strategy into clear plans and selecting the right delivery partners to execute them efficiently. We are seeing the best international contractors competing for UK business and in so doing building UK supply chain capability for the future.”

“Hazard reduction is our absolute priority and that is why we are prioritising our resources to tackle our most challenging facilities.”

Fountain added, “We are also pursuing an ‘optimised programme’ for the decommissioning of the 10 Magnox sites… with accelerated progress at two ‘lead sites’, Trawsfynydd and Bradwell. At other sites innovative solutions to tackle specific issues will be trialled and best practice shared, bringing forward the overall timescales and reducing costs.”

“Other significant challenges are around the effective management of nuclear materials and waste. We need to utilise our current and planned infrastructure more effectively to deal with the growing amounts of waste generated by the decommissioning programme and to work with Government on the implementation of policy with regards to long term waste management and the future use of our plutonium stockpile.”

“I believe we are well placed to deliver real success over the next 10 to 20 years by when we will have made significant inroads at Sellafield and Dounreay, delivered all Magnox reactors into their ‘Care and Maintenance’ phase, completed the decommissioning of the Harwell and Winfrith sites and be well on the way towards developing a geological disposal facility.”

The approved strategy document is due to be published at the end of March 2011.

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