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O'Rourke's nuke debut

Nuclear newcomer picks up Sellaeld storage job as it looks to boost margins after growth

LAING O'Rourke has notched up its first major success in the nuclear market after winning a £40 million contract to build a new storage plant at Sellafield, Cumbria.

The success marks an important step for the firm, which is looking to become a major player in the lucrative nuclear decommissioning and new build sector.

O'Rourke's plans to expand in this market have also been boosted with its link-up with US project manager CH2M Hill on the London Olympics.

CH2M Hill is part of the CLM consortium, with O'Rourke and Mace, which was appointed Olympic delivery partner in August.

The American firm is also a specialist in the nuclear sector.

An O'Rourke source said: 'It can't do us any harm to be working so closely with CH2M Hill when it comes to our nuclear ambitions.

'We have been growing rapidly as a business and one of the main thrusts now is to maintain margins.

'Nuclear is a decent margin business and the Sellafield job would give us a foothold. We see this as an important contract and hopefully the first of many more to come.'

CH2M Hill has been working closely with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for the past two years on decommissioning work at Dounreay in Scotland and at Windscale in West Cumbria.

O'Rourke beat a number of more established rivals to win the Sellafield job, including Nuttall and Amec.

A source at one rival said: 'That job has dropped off our list and it looks like O'Rourke has got it.

'It will be their first major nuclear win and it will be interesting to see how their strategy develops from here.'

A Sellafield spokeswoman said: 'The job hasn't been officially awarded yet and the details have yet to be finalised.

'We are looking to get everything tied up and make an off icial announcement by the end of December.'