The URS- led consortium charged with spending £1.6bn a year decommissioning the Sellafield nuclear site is ripping off taxpayers, the Public Accounts Committee of MPs has claimed.
The committee has hit out at the deal between the Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) consortium of URS, Amec and Areva and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. NMP is paid on a cost reimbursable basis regardless of results.
In the last financial year the consortium was paid £54M in fees, despite only two out of 14 major projects being on track. The consortium also claimed £28M in salaries for staff seconded to carry out special projects.
“We are not yet convinced that taxpayers are getting a good deal from the Authority’s arrangement with Nuclear Management Partners,” said committee chairman Margaret Hodge. “All payments to Nuclear Management Partners and, indeed to its constituent companies, need to be strictly controlled and determined by robust, verified assessments of the value gained, so that payments are not made which would seem to constitute a reward for failure.
“Furthermore, the costs of seconding staff from Nuclear Management Partners’ parent companies appear excessively high, especially given the wage rates in the local economy,” she said.
The total lifetime cost of decommissioning the site is now estimated at £67.5bn. NMP’s contract is for 17 years and worth a possible £22bn. Because of the uncertainties about the scale of the work, NMP is paid on a cost reimbursable basis. The Public Accounts Committee believes this must change.
“Private contractors who gain contracts take no risk because of the uncertainties that persist,” said Hodge.