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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Firms may be hit by overspend

SPIRALLING costs of Britain’s biggest nuclear project could have a backlash for West Cumbrian firms, it has been revealed.

Evaporator D at Sellafield is speculated to be around £100 million over its £400 million budget.

And the West Cumbria Stakeholders (nuclear sites) Group were told on Tuesday there would be no more government cash made available.

Copeland Council leader Elaine Woodburn also raised fears that local companies in the business supply chain may have to pay a price due to other Sellafield work being delayed in order to cover Evap D’s escalating costs.

“It will have a knock-on effect,” she declared, adding: “I have been approached by one firm in the supply chain who have a job to do at Sellafield, they were successful in getting the tender, but the work was now being delayed. Whether it’s due to Evaporator D or to something else I don’t know but large projects with a large over-spend means resources have to come from somewhere. Some of the smaller firms can’t afford that delay.

“Nobody disagrees with cleaning up the biggest risks on the site but the wider implications have to be looked at within the supply chain.”

Evaporator’s B’s multi-million pounds cost gap will have to be met within Sellafield’s existing budget from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

It will mean other projects being delayed combined with efficiency drives to find the money needed.

Says the NDA: “We remain confident that any resulting cost and timescale impacts will not prejudice the completion of the current reprocessing programmes. Evap D is and will remain a priority project given its important role in the high hazard programme.”

The NDA’s new head of programme for Sellafield Mark Steele told The Whitehaven News: “The negative impact is that we won’t be able to push forward all of the work we’d hoped to do. It’s work scheduled year after year, all of it will come but over a longer period of time, there are lots of positives still to come out of it.”

Several reviews are being carried out into what has caused the Evap D cost escalation but Mark Steele said: “A series of lessons have been learned.”

Final costs are not yet known.

Sellafield Ltd said yesterday: “What it may mean in the medium to longer term is that some of the work we had hoped to accelerate may not be brought forward at the rate we’d hoped, it won’t be delayed, just not brought forward.

“There have certainly not been any contracts awarded and then pulled as a result of the issues with Evap D.”

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