Radioactive Waste Management

UK taxpayers to pick up the cost of Hinkley nuclear waste overrun

Nuclear power plant

As reported in The Guardian on Sunday, secret documents show that UK taxpayers must pay for nuclear waste created by the power plant upon opening.

The controversial plant, which was first granted the go-ahead in 2008, has received substantial investment from Chinese investors, alongside French energy firm, EDF — totalling around £24 billion.

According to confidential documents that the government tried to keep locked away, it is British taxpayers who are to pay for the cost of the plant’s nuclear waste should it overrun.

After resisting repeated requests for the documents, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy was forced to release the papers, which were submitted to the European Commission.

The papers state that the amount of waste storage that the investors must pay will be capped, and shows that the Government took considerable steps to reassure backers over the issue.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientist said that, “the government has attempted to keep the costs to the taxpayer of Hinkley under wraps from the start,” and that, “it’s hardly surprising as it doesn’t look good for the government’s claim that they are trying to keep costs down for hardworking families.”

On the last day before government officials had to submit their defence against an appeal for disclosure of the information, the department released a “Nuclear Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology Notification Paper”, which was market as “commercial in confidence.”

According to The Guardian, the papers state that, ““unlimited exposure to risks relating to the costs of disposing of their waste in a GDF [geological disposal facility], could not be accepted by the operator as they would prevent the operator from securing the finance necessary to undertake the project.”

They also explain that there will be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station.”

It is not known what level the cap is at, but it remains clear that that a cost overrun would be transferred to the taxpayer.

Dr David Lowry, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who made the freedom of information request, said that “this shows that the government cares more about the economic future of a foreign power generator than British taxpayers.”

A spokesperson for the Government said, “All operators of new nuclear power stations in the UK are legally obliged to meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management and disposal costs. They will also pay the UK government to dispose of the waste produced at the end of a plant’s life.”

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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