The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has decided that the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) should continue operating until it completes its current fuel manufacturing campaign.

The plant first went into production in 2002 and to date has failed to meet its throughput targets.

In a statement on 27 October the NDA said it “has a duty to monitor the performance of all plants within its ownership and the performance of the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) has been of concern to the NDA since its formation in 2005.”

NDA’s main aim is to achieve the best value for money for the taxpayer in the future. It has therefore taken recent performance, future potential capability and the views of customers into account when considering options for the facility..

Given recent improvements in plant performance and positive discussions with customers the NDA has concluded that, at this stage, the best course of action is the continued operation of SMP in pursuance of completing the current campaign of fuel manufacture.

The NDA says it has written to Sellafield Ltd, asking them to continue to deliver the current manufacturing campaign whilst seeking to improve operational performance. In parallel, International Nuclear Services, the commercial subsidiary of the NDA, is continuing to explore new commercial arrangements that would make the continuing operation of the plant economically acceptable to the NDA in the longer term.

According to figures released in April, since opening in 2002 SMP has had an average net cash flow (costs minus sales) of -GBP89.5 million; -GBP626 million in total. Costs include operating costs, overheads and subcontracts. The plant cost GBP498 million to build and GBP139.4 million to commission.

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