Dounreay – counting the #3.3bn cost

The government’s decision last week to close the Dounreay nuclear plant on Scotland’s north coast was business-driven, and not a result of political pressure or embarrasment over 170kg of ‘unaccounted’ material that included weapons-grade uranium, according to the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

A ten-strong team, led by AEA FD Paul White, projected that Dounreay could earn #25m from reprocessing over the next decade. The estimated profits of #10m would be set against future decommissioning costs. But #30m would be required to upgrade the plant to cope with the projected workload.

‘You don’t have to be an accountant to work out that that’s not good business,’ said an AEA spokesman.

The government and the AEA now have to calculate the costs of processing the remaining material at the site, funding new safety measures required by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, decomissioning three reactors and cleaning up radioactive waste.

The AEA’s current estimate of Dounreay’s 100-year liability is #3.3bn, based on the Treasury’s model of a constant 6% inflation rate.

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