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Winner revealed for £7bn nuclear decommissioning deal

A consortium of Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor Corporation has won a £7bn contract to run the Magnox and Research Sites Restoration Ltd nuclear decommissioning sites for the next 14 years.

The Cavendish Fluor partnership will take ownership of a dozen Magnox and RSRL sites as the parent body organisation in a decommissioning programme worth £4-5bn over the next seven years and almost £2bn for the following seven years, from 1 September 2014.

The competition is one of the UK’s largest public contracts, with a procurement process that has lasted for over two years.

Tenders were evaluated on criteria including cost, health, safety and security, underpinning technical rationale, commercial terms and approach to socioeconomics.

Consortium bidders:

  • Reactor Site Solutions, including Bechtel and the Magnox owner and manager, Energy Solutions
  • A Fluor partnership with RSRL PBO and Babcock subsidary, Cavendish Nuclear
  • The CAS Restoration partnership, including CH2M Hill, Areva and Serco
  • UK Nuclear Restoration Ltd, including AMEC, Atkins, and Rolls-Royce

Magnox Ltd is responsible for decommissioning 10 Magnox reactor sites in England, Scotland and Wales and RSRL is responsible for decommissioning two nuclear research centres at Harwell and Winfrith.

The NDA has come in for criticism from the Public Accounts Committee for its handling of the clean-up of the Magnox swarf storage silos retrievals project at Sellafield, after costs nearly doubled from £387m in March 2012 to £729m in September 2013.

The NDA said the Cavendish Fluor partnership would be expected to save £1bn in on the decomissioning programme.

Nine of the Magnox sites in Scotland, Wales and England are nuclear power stations that have stopped generating and are in various stages of decommissioning.

Wylfa on Anglesey is still generating electricity but is expected to close by 2014. Hitachi is planning on building a new nuclear reactor at the site through its Horizon nuclear arm as part of a wave of new nuclear power stations.

The two RSRL sites at Harwell and Winfrith are former research centres that contain some of the UK’s earliest experimental reactors but are now well advanced in their decommissioning programmes.

Peter Rogers, chief executive of Cavendish Nuclear’s owner Babcock, said the announcement reflected its “ability to successfully deliver complex projects of national significance in very demanding environments”.

NDA chief executive John Clarke said: “The selection of Cavendish Fluor partnership as the preferred bidder is a significant step in our drive to attract world-class management and innovation to our sites. 

“We have undergone a comprehensive and rigorous process aimed at securing the best possible parent body for these challenging sites.

“Cavendish Fluor partnership bring a successful track record and extensive nuclear experience that will bring enormous benefits to the decommissioning and clean-up programme.” 

A mandatory standstill period and a five-month transition phase now start while the contract is finalised and legal processes are completed.

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