The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA’s) total planned expenditure for 2017/2018 will remain similar to last year at GBP3.24bn ($4.1bn), of which GBP2.36bn will be funded by the government and GBP0.88bn by income from commercial operations. In its draft business plan, published for consultation on 12 December, the publically funded NDA said planned expenditure on site programmes will be GBP3.06bn, while non-site expenditure is expected to be GBP0.18bn. Non-site expenditure includes skills development, socio-economic, research and development, insurance and pension costs, and implementing geological disposal.

Expenditure at Sellafield, NDA’s largest and most complex nuclear site, will be GBP2bn. NDA said one of its key objectives at Sellafield is the closure of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) in 2018. Thorp takes used nuclear fuel from EDF’s operational NPPs and from foreign customers. Its closure will avoid the expense of replacing many of the plants that support its operation. NDA said this means it can focus its resources on the primary task of decommissioning and remediation. “The end of reprocessing operations in Thorp provides a clear transition point for Sellafield,” the business plan says. “The site will move from commercial operations to decommissioning and continued management of spent fuel and waste.”

NDA publishes its business plan every year, setting out the next three years of key activity towards cleaning up and decommissioning 17 of the UK’s earliest nuclear sites. These include the nation’s first nuclear power stations and various research and fuel facilities, including Sellafield.

In a statement, NDA CEO John Clarke said: "We are now seeing contaminated waste being retrieved from the highest hazard facilities for the first time ever at Sellafield. Meanwhile, at some of our other sites, defuelling – the removal of all nuclear fuel – will soon be completed. "It's also important not to forget the great strides that have been made in dealing with low-level waste generated by the nuclear industry. In 2010 we published a national strategy for dealing with this type of waste. This has led to innovative, more sustainable ways of dealing with low-level waste, including re-use, metal recycling, disposal to specially licensed landfill sites and combustion."

Clarke listed five key highlights of the new business plan: after many decades, all nuclear fuel reprocessing at Sellafield will draw to an end by 2020; all 11 Magnox reactors will have been defueled and fuel transferred by 2019; an earlier start for retrievals from the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield by 2020; first NDA site moving into care and maintenance by 2019; and a Low-Level Waste Repository decision related to the third term of the parent body agreement will be made in 2018.

Clarke said then that NDA had been able to offer savings to the Treasury of around GBP1bn over the government’s Spending Review period. In return, it has secured over GBP11bn of grant funding for the next five years which, together with its income projections, will enable it to continue to make broad progress across its nuclear estate.