An Areva, Mace and Atkins joint venture has been chosen as preferred bidder for a new Sellafield nuclear decommissioning contract.
The Silos Direct-encapsulation Plant project is one of the highest-profile decommissioning projects in the UK and is valued at between £800m and £1.4bn.
The plant is a bespoke, mechanical handling and encapsulation plant for nuclear intermediate level waste.
The project forms an integral part of the waste retrieval and hazard reduction programme for the Magnox Swarf Storage Silos at Sellafield and is of strategic importance to the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The JV partners will take the project through design, construction, manufacture, procurement, installation and inactive commissioning.
Sellafield will now enter a period of clarification before the final contract is finalised and awarded by the NDA.
It is understood a Nuvia Vinci joint venture has missed out on the deal.
Sellafield chief projects officer Scott Reeder said two “strong joint venture organisations emerged to tender for the contract” and that it had been pleased with the quality of each of the bids.
1995-2001 Original Silos Direct Encapsulation Plant constructed but suffered delays and the project was put on hold. The building was then placed in a care and maintenance regime.
2004 Work carried out on new options for the plant and in 2005 parts of the redundant plant and equipment were stripped out for the new plant.
April 2012 Sellafield admitted that up to 100 workers for Vinci and Nuvia, who undertook £100m-worth of strip-out and remodelling work on the project, would face redundancy due to an engineering review of the project.
August 2012 Sellafield held an industry day for firms interested in the scheme and went out to market under plans to appoint a contractor, or consortium of contractors, by November 2013.
Mace chief operating officer for major programmes and infrastructure Jason Millett said the a.M.a joint venture had been able to “build on its pre-existing relationships in the nuclear market to reach preferred bidder status on a project of significant magnitude”.
He said the win reinforced Mace’s 2020 ambition to be “the UK’s programme manager of choice”.
Areva is part of the Nuclear Management Partners JV with Amec and URS. NMS was awarded a five-year extension to its £1.8bn-a-year Sellafield clean-up contract in October 2013.
Its performance on the site had been criticised by the Public Accounts Committee. Its chair Margaret Hodge described the increase in costs on the Magnox Swarf Storage Silos retrievals project from £387m in March 2012 to £729m in September 2013 as “astonishing”.
In February, NMP chairman Tom Zarges said Sellafield was the most complex nuclear site in the world. “The first term of our contract has been characterised by many successes but also a number of disappointments and areas for improvement,” he said.