Atomic nightmare

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I accept that no Annual Report issued by the Business and Energy department, BEIS, is ever likely to make the Sunday Times’ best sellers list. But as part of my devotion to my readers, I have been perusing the recently issued 2019 edition. In particular, the financial figures appearing in the section concerning the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The NDA is responsible for 17 nuclear licensed sites across the country, with a range of facilities including former nuclear power stations, research sites, and nuclear fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities. The Authority has made its best estimate of the future costs of decommissioning these sites.

In preparing these figures, we are assured that the methodologies used in the calculations follow the official “HM Treasury Green Book guidance” and (crucially) “the need to remove optimism bias.” 

Apparently, project estimates like these will typically have a range of from -50% to 300%. So, the range of costs for cleaning up nuclear contamination could range from just £99 billion up to the almost unimaginable sum of £232 billion.

But overall the Government’s official watchdog reckons that, over the next century, best bet is that costs will amount – at present prices ¬– to approximately £123.3 billion. And all without producing a single usable kilowatt hour of electricity.