The UK’s Sellafield Ltd plans to make efficiency savings to be able to work within its £2 billion ($2.85 billion) budget for the next financial year as the site “enters the most crucial period in its modern history”. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) secured the sum for Sellafield Ltd as part of the government’s Spending Review, announced in November last year.
From April 1, the NDA is to take ownership of Sellafield Ltd, as part of reforms to management of the site.
The budget announcement was made in the NDA’s draft business plan, which was published on 5 January. It marks an increase in Sellafield’s £1.9 billion budget for the current financial year and “underlines the NDA’s commitment to securing progress in the site’s clean-up program”, Sellafield Ltd said yesterday.
However, the company said it “has made clear that further efficiency savings will be required in order to deliver the scope of work planned for 2016/17”.
John Clarke, chief executive of the NDA, said: “This level of funding for Sellafield reflects tremendous support from government and this will enable us to make vital progress on cleaning up the high hazard facilities at Sellafield, particularly the legacy ponds and silos. But we have made an unequivocal commitment to government that in return we will expect Sellafield Ltd to place the greatest possible emphasis on value for money.”
Paul Foster, Sellafield Ltd managing director, said that although the £2 billion represents increased funding for the site, the scope of work the company needs to deliver “will outstrip our budget unless we drive greater efficiency into everything we do”.
This means, he said, “doing more for less and ensuring we are extracting the maximum value possible from the budget we are given.”
By “crucial phase” in Sellafield’s history, the company was referring to changes to its mission from being an operational nuclear facility into a “fully-fledged decommissioning site”, and as it moves to a new management model as a subsidiary of the NDA.
A year of “landmark progress” is expected at Sellafield in the coming year, it said. All remaining fuel in the Pile Fuel Storage Pond is expected to be cleared during the year and bulk retrievals of sludge and fuel are scheduled to begin from the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond.
All of Sellafield Ltd’s departments have a savings plan which specifies where efficiencies will be made in their area. According to company information, a key focus is commercial efficiencies – ensuring value for money in contract awards. Roughly 60% of its annual spend goes to external organisations.
Some recent efficiencies highlighted in the company’s staff magazine Energize include more than £1.2 million saved on travel and subsistence in the first six months of 2015/16; £95,000 a month saved by switching to a new printing platform; £75,000 a year saved following improvements to ‘steam traps’ in the Magnox Reprocessing plant.
Regarding its £2 billion budget for the new financial year, an industry source told World Nuclear News today that Sellafield Ltd “would be looking at a nine- figure shortfall unless it achieves planned efficiencies”.
The NDA’s draft Business Plan is out for public consultation until 15 February.
Sellafield Ltd said on 20 January that, as the government looks to create three million more apprenticeships in the UK by 2020, it had been invited as a ‘top UK business’ to debate how to improve apprenticeships in the country.
Apprentice training manager Steve Bewsher and mechanical design apprentice Philip Marwood were selected to represent the company at an apprenticeship celebration event held at 10 Downing Street.
Bewsher said: “We are immensely proud, along with our training partners Gen2 and Wigan & Leigh College, to welcome a further 165 apprentices this year – taking the total of young people in training with Sellafield Ltd to a landmark 550 apprentices – and to take the lead on developing new top-quality training such as the trailblazer and Degree apprenticeships, and to grow the local skills base to make Cumbria a Centre of Nuclear Excellence.”