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Sellafield Ltd buries the cost of its expensive Evaporator D Nuclear waste processing project

CORE 26th Dec 2017, There can’t be many nuclear bodies that choose to bury – just three days before Christmas – what is touted as a good news story by the industry. But this is exactly what Sellafield Ltd has contrived to do in its 22nd December announcement that the long overdue and eye-wateringly expensive Evaporator D has come on line at Sellafield.

Yet by confirming that the new Evaporator actually came on line at 0800 on the 8th December, the start-up has been kept under wraps for a fortnight until a time when public attention was focused on seasonal festivities rather than on nuclear
news. Keeping such a story under the public radar for so long is, to say the least, wholly out of character for the industry – though the Evaporator’s history is hardly something to shout about.

It is not however just about the burial of ‘good’ news itself that many will find disturbing, but rather the manner in which the burial rites have been manipulated and massaged to dupe the wider world. Designed to process the dangerous high level waste liquids produced by the site’s reprocessing operations so that they can be vitrified and canned for eventual disposal, Evaporator D is located in the site’s Highly Active Liquid Evaporation and Storage (HALES) facility.

Its tortured construction track record since its inception over a decade ago by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) is well
documented and gives the lie to its original costings and timescale. As reported in the industry’s Nuclear Fuel journal in 2009 ‘Sellafield operators estimated (in 2007) the cost of the proposed Evaporator D at GBP90 million and said they expected it to be operational around 2010/2011’. Now in operation over six years late, the Evaporator’s £750M cost today represents an eight-fold increase on its original costing. …..

There are few positives to be taken from the Evaporator D saga that rivals the similar squandering of public money on the ill-fated and now defunct Sellafield MOX plant and even – when its financial accounts are eventually exposed publicly for the first time – the THORP plant itself. The one positive that will bring at least some cheer to the UK taxpayer is that, then costed at £600M, plans for an Evaporator E were abandoned by Sellafield in 2012.

December 29, 2017 - Posted by | UK, wastes

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