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The clean-up of the Sellafield complex of nuclear power stations in Cumbria is the largest civil engineering project currently taking place in the UK.

When started in 2005, the site's decommissioning was estimated to cost £31.5bn of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's then £56bn budget, which has now risen to £83bn.

The job of managing the clean-up process alone, for which a consortium led by URS-owned Washington Group and also including AMEC is preferred bidder, could be the largest-ever publicly procured contract in European history.

Sellafield's decommissioning is such a vastly expensive and time-consuming task because it is the largest and most complex of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority-owned sites.

First opened in 1947, the Sellafield group of sites in Cumbria includes the world's first commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall and the fire-ravaged Windscale reactors. A separate site at Capenhurst, Cumbria, is also grouped under the Sellafield umbrella.

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