Evaporator D must be breaking all records. Initially costed at £90M (2007) and originally due to come into operation in 2010/11, the cost has increased eight-fold to £740M – as at September 2015. With a ‘challenging’ operational date currently pencilled in as 2017/18, and with updated figures yet to be published, the sky is clearly the limit for Evaporator D. The tortured progress of the new Evaporator, designed to reduce (by evaporation) the volume of the dangerous liquid High Level Wastes (HLW) produced by spent fuel reprocessing, reveals a catalogue of project mismanagement and eye-watering cost hikes that show little sign of abating. Promoted specifically by BNFL and subsequently by the NDA as being urgently needed to support continued reprocessing operations in the B205 (magnox fuel) and THORP (oxide fuel) plant, Evaporator D is currently being shoe-horned into the HLW complex where it will join its three fellow but semi-crippled evaporators (A,B & C) whose increasing unreliability through age and internal corrosion had underpinned the urgency for Evaporator D. For a project whose £740M cost will undoubtedly escalate further, aggrieved taxpayers may take some comfort from Sellafield’s 2012 announcement that plans for a fifth (£600M) Evaporator E had been scrapped. But they should now cast a wary eye to NuGen’s new-build project just across the road from Sellafield where the prospect of further pilfering from the public purse is simmering on the back-burner. Largely under-reported by the media, Moorside’s developer NuGen told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in early November that it had been calculating how elements of its proposed triple AP1000 reactor site might be carved up to allow the non-nuclear elements of the project to be paid for by the UK Government. For despite casting its net far and wide in an attempt to drum up the additional finance to meet the clearly under-estimated £15Bn cost of building Moorside, the consortium of Japan’s Toshiba and France’s Engie is clearly struggling to attract support – a struggle intensified by the not unexpected news today that Engie itself has declared that it plans to pull out of the Moorside and other new-build developments because ‘it no longer has the resources to finance such expensive projects’ and wants to concentrate on renewables instead.
CORE 8th Dec 2016 read more »