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Sellafield cost 'increased by £5 billion to £53 billion'

Sellafield nuclear site in Seascale, Cumbria. Credit: PA

The cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the nuclear site at Sellafield has increased by £5 billion to £53 billion, the National Audit Office has said.

Despite my Committee’s calls in February 2014 for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to make big improvements, the cost of cleaning up the nuclear waste at Sellafield continues to soar and has risen by an astonishing £5 billion to £53 billion in February 2015, from £48 billion on 31 March 2014.

The Authority’s work at Sellafield is not just costing more, it is also taking much longer than planned and, for 2014-15, it looks like work will be behind schedule for the fourth year running.

It has taken far too long for the Authority to deal with management incompetence at Sellafield. My Committee concluded in February 2014 that the Authority had not demonstrated why Nuclear Management Partners’ ownership of Sellafield provides value for money. Yet the Authority only took the decision in January 2015 to terminate this contract with Nuclear Management Partners, which is almost a year after my Committee told it to do so if performance did not improve. It is galling that breaking the contract will cost the public purse £430,000.

I expect the Authority, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Nuclear Management Partners and Sellafield Ltd to tell me how the escalation in cost of cleaning up Sellafield will be stopped and performance put back on track, when they appear before my Committee on 11 March.

– The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts

Second strike at Sellafield

Contractors at the Sellfield site have walked-out for the second time this week Credit: ITV Border

1,300 contractors have walked-out at Sellafield for the second time this week.

They originally downed tools on Monday after a dispute over scaffolding on a project to replace old ventilation.

While the issues surrounding that have been resolved, the workers are now unhappy with contractor Doosan Babcock and several health and safety Issues.They have said they plan to remain on strike until Monday.

Doosan Babcock hasn't commented.

Workers return as talks start

The mass walk-out has ended today Credit: ITV Border

Contractors that walked-out at Sellafield on Tuesday have returned to work today.

Talks to settle the dispute are also set to start as part of the agreement to workers ending the "unofficial action".

The mass walk-out was caused by a disagreement between two companies over who owns a piece of scaffolding at the site.

Sellafield walk-out is over scaffolding

Around 1,300 contractors based at Sellafield have walked out Credit: ITV Border

The mass walk-out at Sellafield has reportedly been caused by a dispute between two companies over who owns a piece of scaffolding at the site.

The union UNITE is claiming its members may not be insured to touch the equipment.

The main contractor Doosan Babcock has said it's in talks with unions to try and resolve the matter.

"Doosan Babcock can confirm that it is in consultation with its employee union representatives to fully understand and resolve the unofficial industrial strike action undertaken at Sellafield.

"While those talks are underway, we are unable to comment further."

– Spokesperson, Doosan Babcock

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Sellafield Ltd responds to strike

Sellafield Ltd says it's taking steps to secure safety and security at the site during the walk-out Credit: ITV Border

Around 1,300 contractors based at Sellafield have walked out over a dispute between a main contractor and a sub-contractor.

Those striking work for a number of sub-contracting firms that operate under the umbrella of the National Agreement for Engineering and Construction Industry and were reportedly working on building projects.

Sellafield Ltd has responded to the "unofficial action", stating that the dispute does not directly involve the company.

"Sellafield Ltd is not directly involved in the dispute, which does not involve any of our employees, but we have taken steps to ensure that safety and security at the site are unaffected by this unofficial action, and we will be closely monitoring further developments.

"This unofficial action is as a result of a dispute between a main contractor and a sub-contractor"

– Spokesperson, Sellafield Ltd

Mass walk-out at Sellafield

More than 1,000 contractors have walked out at Sellafield Credit: ITV Border

Around 1,300 contractors based at Sellafield have walked out.

Workers downed tools at midday and are not expected to return to the site until Wednesday.

The industrial action is the result of a dispute between a main contracting firm and a sub-contracting firm on the nuclear plant where more than 10,000 workers are based.

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