AMEC out, URS in at Dounreay - for now

1 April 2010

As competition for a lucrative management contract heats up, the current management consortium of the shut down Scotland fast-reactor site, has disbanded, and one of the members has pulled out.

The Pentland Alliance of UKAEA, CH2M Hill and AMEC that runs Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has been reorganised in the wake of Babcock International's takeover of UKAEA Ltd. Babcock bought UKAEA for £38 million in September 2009.

Babcock has announced that URS Washington has joined the group, which has been renamed the Babcock Dounreay Partnership. URS is also a member (with AMEC and Areva) of the Nuclear Management Partners consortium that runs Sellafield, and has a stake in the low-level waste repository in Cumbria (with Studsvik UK, Serco and Areva).

AMEC has left the group. An AMEC spokesman said that AMEC decided to leave after Babcock, after taking over UKAEA, put pressure on it to take a reduced shareholding in the alliance. Originally Pentland Alliance members had an equal shareholding. A Babcock spokesperson could not be reached by press date.

The wrangling is significant because the the site owner, UK government body the NDA, has begun an auction for the PBO contract (with a protected annual budget of £150 million) to start in April 2012 and to end when the site reaches an interim end state (the tender document specifies 20 years).

The UK NDA published the contract notice on 9 March for participant prequalification, which would winnow the field to a few contenders. Following that would be a dialogue stage in late 2010; those who pass will be invited to submit a final tender in late 2010, and a preferred bidder will be selected (late 2011), and the contract will be awarded in early 2012.

The AMEC spokesman did say that AMEC would not be leaving the site, but does plan to bid in the PBO auction. He said that no decisions had been made about which companies AMEC might team up with for the bid, if any.

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