Since securing new commercial arrangements for SMP in April 2010, the NDA has monitored progress to ensure that operations continue to improve and are delivering value for money. A key objective for the NDA is to manage its commercial operations, so as to ensure that the costs of delivering our mission to the UK taxpayer are kept to the minimum
Working with Japanese customers, the NDA has been reviewing the future of SMP in the light of the impact on the Japanese nuclear industry of the tragic earthquake in March and the likely effect on the SMP programme and associated commercial arrangements.
The NDA Board has now assessed the changed commercial risk profile for SMP arising from potential delays following the earthquake in Japan and subsequent events and has concluded that in order to ensure that the UK taxpayer does not carry a future financial burden from SMP that the only reasonable course of action is to close SMP at the earliest practical opportunity.
The decision to close SMP is no reflection on the SMP workforce which has continued to improve SMP operating performance.
The NDA will work closely with Sellafield Limited to mitigate any employment impacts from this decision, including the potential for redeployment given the level of activity planned across the site over coming years in the new Sellafield Plan.
The NDA will continue to store Japanese plutonium safely and securely under international safeguards and further develop discussions with the Japanese customers on a responsible approach to support the Japanese Utilities’ policy for the reuse of their material.
The NDA’s decision on SMP is a commercial matter which relates to this facility only. Separately, the Government has been consulting on the policy options for dealing with the UK’s Plutonium stockpile, including possible re-use as MOX fuel. The NDA awaits with interest the outcome of this consultation.