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DTI to set up nuclear clean-up agency

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NUCLEAR CLEAN up work worth between £65bn and £85bn is expected to be managed by a new government agency under plans being drawn by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).

A source close to the DTI said this week that plans for a government decommissioning agency to clean up Britain's ageing nuclear power and reprocessing plants would be announced imminently.

The so-called Liabilities Management Agency (LMA) will be government funded. It is expected to take charge of defunct nuclear infrastructure owned by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), Magnox Electric and British Energy.

'Liabilities' handed to the LMA will include disused reactors, fuel reprocessing, waste processing and storage facilities plus contaminated land. It is believed the LMA will also take over facilities which are still in use, but due to be decommissioned in the next 10 to 40 years.

Most of the radioactive material is at BNFL sites with around 20% at UKAEA sites.

But creation of a single decommissioning body is seen by critics as a way to help the government to privatise nuclear reprocessor and power company BNFL. It will allow BNFL to offload billions of pounds of liabilities onto the taxpayer, making it more attractive to private investors.

Environmentalists fear the creation of the LMA would break the 'polluter pays' principle enshrined in the World Health Organisation's Basel Convention 1989.

However, bringing decommissioning under the control of a single body will make it easier to plan for long term storage or disposal of nuclear waste, said independent consultant John Large.

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