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Taxpayer will cop the bill for UK’s nuclear reactor wastes

The industry will only invest in new reactors if the government fixes a disposal levy to cover their contribution towards disposal in such a repository. The taxpayer will be liable for any shortfall if the actual costs exceed this levy decades from now.

Taxpayer could be hit by nuclear waste bill for new reactors• Fears new disposal levy could underestimate cost• Radioactive waste ‘could be traded like commodity’  Tim Webb * guardian.co.uk,   18 October 2010 The nuclear industry could end up passing on to taxpayers the costs of disposing of waste from new reactors under government plans, according to official documents seen by the Guardian.

This is despite ministers’ claims the industry would no longer receive any public subsidy – repeated today by energy secretary Chris Huhne as he unveiled the next step in the UK’s new nuclear reactor programme.

The government has been consulting with nuclear operators about how they will pay their waste disposal costs. But the response by the Ministry of Defence, which has a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines so must also pay a disposal levy, said the proposals favoured private reactor companies and could encourage a “‘someone else’s problem’ attitude”.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the partially state-funded body responsible for cleaning up the UK’s publically owned civil nuclear sites, also said the levy could underestimate the disposal costs, leaving the taxpayer to cover any shortfall……..

Highly radioactive waste from the UK’s old reactors and nuclear weapons programmes is currently dotted around the country in interim storage facilities. The cost of disposing of this will be met by the taxpayer via the MoD and the NDA. The plan is to eventually build a £12bn underground repository to store this waste permanently. This repository could also house waste from new civil nuclear power stations.

The industry will only invest in new reactors if the government fixes a disposal levy to cover their contribution towards disposal in such a repository. The taxpayer will be liable for any shortfall if the actual costs exceed this levy decades from now.

Today, the government outlined how companies would have to pay for decommissioning costs but will not announce how they will contribute towards a new repository until later this autumn.

Taxpayer could be hit by nuclear waste bill for new reactors | Environment | The Guardian

October 18, 2010 - Posted by | politics, UK | , , , , , , ,

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