Most of BNFL’s clean-up liabilities and assets set aside to pay for them, along with those of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), will be taken on by the LMA. The liabilities of BNFL and UKAEA are put at £35 billion and £7 billion, respectively.

Making the announcement to the House of Commons, secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt said: “We are creating a management regime which can provide the strategic direction and influence required to sustain a clean up programme extending into the next century.”

Hewitt said that public private partnership (PPP) was a target for BNFL, and that “a PPP could in the right circumstances both be right for BNFL’s businesses and improve the management of liabilities at Sellafield.” She pointed out that there is still much to do and that the government will reconsider the scope for a PPP in 2004-5.

Responding to the accusation of subsidising the nuclear industry, Hewitt said: “BNFL is a publicly owned company and what we are doing is transferring what are existing public sector liabilities — that can never be anything other than public sector liabilities — from one part of the public sector to another part of the public sector in order that they can be more transparently, rigourously and effectively managed for all our benefits in future.”

Hewitt said that nuclear waste management and decommissioning was expected to cost around £1 billion over the next 10 to 15 years, but the creation of the LMA would have little or no impact on public finances.
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