Nuclear decommissioning at Sellafield
What do the changes mean for West Cumbria? Check out the background details in simple language and tell us what you think ...
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has now started work at the West Lakes Science Park on cleaning up Britain's civil nuclear sites - including those in West Cumbria.
Initially the creation of the NDA will create around 200 new jobs as work starts on the clean-up of all 22 nuclear sites around the UK, including 4 in West Cumbria - Calder Hall, Windscale, the waste repository at Drigg and Sellafield.
The side affect of this clean-up is a gradual reduction in jobs - which is expected to have a huge impact because Sellafield accounts for more than 60 per cent of all employment in Copeland and 20 per cent of all employment in Allerdale.
Jobs are expected to reduce from 10,500 to 4,000 by 2018 and the Sellafield workforce will begin to reduce in next five to seven years, according to the NDA.
BNFL will continue to run and manage its sites as British Nuclear Group (which will be a contractor) until the NDA decides it wants to put the management of sites out to competition.
Decommissioning is basically the complete dismantling of former nuclear facilities. The official rather wordy definition from the DTI is: 'Decommissioning is a staged process through which a nuclear facility, at which normal operations have finally ceased, is taken out of service, including full or partial dismantling of buildings and their contents. It may include other operations such as the decontamination of buildings which are not to be dismantled and the remedial treatment or restoration of the land under and around the facility. The objective of decommissioning is to remove the hazard the facility poses progressively, giving due regard to security considerations, the safety of workers and the general public and protecting the environment, while in the longer term reducing the number of sites and acreage of land which remain under regulatory control.'
Complete decommissioning of the Sellafield site will take more than 50 years (according to the Sellafield Press Office)
The figures which have normally been talked about regarding employment at Sellafield over the next few years come from a report carried out by ERM in 2003. The report looks at a number of possible scenarios but the ball park figures which seem to have become common currency are 12,000 employees in early 2003 falling to around 4,000 by 2018. The 2018 date is brought down to 2011 in some reports. Sellafield press office sasy that currently there are around 10,500 people on site and they don't believe there'll be a dramatic reduction in staff numbers before 2015.
Text from ERM report: In early 2003 Sellafield employed approximately 12,000 BNFL, Agency and Contractor staff. The average age of staff was 42 and the average length of service was 14 years. Almost half of respondents stated that they live in West Cumbria because of Sellafield, and almost a fifth moved to the area to work at the site.
Again from the ERM report: in early 2003 there were 12,100 workers on the Sellafield site, with a further 2,630 jobs in West Cumbria being dependent upon the plant, and approximately 36,000 jobs in West Cumbria are not BNFL related in any way.
According to the leader of Copeland Council Elaine Woodburn 17,000 jobs are at risk from the rundown at Sellafield, added to the 8000 on site are a further 9000 from the knock on effect on businesses in West Cumbria.
last updated: 13/05/2008 at 14:09