31 January 2008 | Jake Kanter
The cost of decommissioning the UK's nuclear power stations has reached £73 billion, according to an NAO investigation.
A report revealed the cost of site support services, which include procurement, engineering, human resources and financial services, had risen to £20 billion in 2007, up 9 per cent since 2005.
Although this remains lower than the cost of other services, such as waste disposal, asbestos removal and cleaning, it represents more than a quarter of the total decommissioning cost.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is responsible for overseeing the clean-up, is encouraging firms that manage contracts to create more competition for work and widen their supplier lists.
It will also become compulsory for these firms to submit their annual procurement plans to the authority for approval. The NDA is targeting a 10 per cent reduction on the annual services spend of £826 million by 2008-09.
Conservative MP Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said although the NDA is making progress in decommissioning it needs to significantly reduce costs.
"Decommissioning relies in part on income from increasingly unreliable plants, and unforeseen expenses continually pop up. These factors combine and disrupt plans, slowing down the decommissioning process. The resulting 'start and stop' nature of work at some sites adds to the bill for the taxpayer."