Britain’s nuclear industry has been hit by fresh turmoil after the government said it was planning to appeal against a ruling that it had botched a £7bn contest to clean up toxic power plants, while another company threatened to bring legal action. A High Court judge ruled on July 29 that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had acted unlawfully in the way it awarded a contract to dismantle and make safe 12 of the UK’s first-generation nuclear power stations. The decision leaves the government agency exposed to multimillion pound claims for damages.The initial court challenge was brought by Energy Solutions, the US-based company that lost the contract after managing the nuclear sites for 14 years, but on Friday another US contractor, Bechtel , said it would also take legal action. Other losing companies or consortiums, such as Ch2MHill and Serco, are expected to follow. Bechtel is understood to be seeking compensation for the loss of future earnings but others may just seek to recoup bid costs, which are estimated at £15m per consortium. In 2014 the work was handed to the Cavendish Fluor Partnership, a joint venture between the FTSE 100 company Babcock and the American engineer Fluor. But the court found that the NDA had “manipulated” the valuation process in order to avoid disqualifying the Babcock-Fluor bid. “In my judgment the NDA sought to avoid the consequence of disqualification by fudging the evaluation,” Justice Peter Fraser wrote in his ruling. He found that the NDA “fell short” in meeting its obligations of ” transparency and equal judgment”. Other than Energy Solutions and Bechtel, which had teamed up to compete for the work, the bidders were CAS Restoration Partnership – a consortium of CH2M Hill, Areva and Serco – and UK Nuclear Restoration, which was made up of Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce.
FT 26th Aug 2016 read more »