Why Sellafield costs us all a bomb
After a private consortium tried, and failed, to rescue the power station from decades of neglect, it is back in the arms of the public sector once again Read more
Geoffrey Lean only partly explains what happened this week: what went wrong,
but not why nor how such a poor private consortium was able to secure the
contract in the first place.
The known facts in the backstory to the Sellafield decision are startling.
I have worked on this issue with Labour MP Paul Flynn for seven years, and his
attempts to make transparent the deal done to give Nuclear Management Partners
(NMP) the contract have been met with obstruction- by Government and in nuclear
industry at every turn.
When he initiated Parliamentary debate, on 19 November 2008, shortly after the
NMP contract was awarded in early October 2008, coincidentally two days after
Ed Miliband became Labour’s first Secretary of State for Energy and Climate
Changer, Mr Flynn was dismissed by Mike O’Brien, the then Labour energy
minister, as a conspiracy theorist asserting “his concoction of conspiracy
theory, innuendo and hyperbole has reached new heights in the House,” and told MPs Flynn had “exaggerated, went way
over the top in his condemnations.”
Mr Flynn’s Labour colleague, Jamie Reed chipped in with the observation that Mr
Flynn’s exposure was an “incoherent concoction.”€ (Hansard, 19 Nov 2008 :
Let your readers decide, now the current energy secretary has sacked NMP partners from their £22 billion
contract, who was exaggerating and whether Mr Flynn’s criticisms were coherent.
Mr Flynn tabled an early day motion (EDM) – a kind of political notice – on the
NMP contract on 6 February 2013, which included the observation: “DECC were
questioned on the probity of such huge sums being awarded (to NMP) without
Parliamentary scrutiny; recalls an earlier EDM 2321 on Parliamentary Oversight
of Sellafield Indemnification tabled on 22 October 2008 observed accurately
that the agreement would privatise the profits of the Sellafield management
contract leaving the potentially multi-billion pound liabilities with
taxpayers; acknowledges the subsequent release of internal memoranda and emails
between DECC and NDA officials which expose the deliberate cover up from
I obtained the internal e-mails and documents from the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority, who own Sellafield, after a protracted battle over disclosure for
many months in 2008, which were very heavily censored prior to release with
whole pages, and the names of most of the officials involved, having been
systematically blanked out. Nonetheless, they included buried in the 140-odd
pages released, the extraordinary revelation that the Department of Trade and
Industry, DECC’s predecessor department responsible for nuclear policy, and the
NDA, wanted to go ahead with awarding the deal to NMP, by avoiding due
Parliamentary scrutiny and circumventing democratic oversight, detailing how
the deception of Parliament was to be effected. It was a clear scandal.
Energy secretary Ed Davey says a new transitional management arrangement will
be brought in over 15 months. The minimum the public and Parliament can expect
is every aspect of this is fully transparent and open to detailed scrutiny in
public before any new agreement is signed.