The Government has responded to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report “Progress at Sellafield” published in February this year. In its response the Government admonishes the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for “inappropriately” withholding information from the public – backing the findings of the heavily critical PAC report.
The NDA stunned the industry when it handed Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) a five-year extension to its contract last October despite poor performance. A review by accountants KPMG only seemed to confirm how badly NMP had managed Sellafield, stating that the project was run in the interests of the consortium’s shareholders rather than those of the taxpayer. But great swathes of the highly detailed, 292-page document – obtained in a Freedom of Information request by nuclear-issues expert Dr David Lowry – were blacked out.
PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge was furious that the NDA had redacted pages of vital information on the basis of commercial confidentiality. The PAC report concluded: “The Authority should revisit its approach to disclosing information to ensure it does not use grounds such as commercial confidentiality inappropriately to withhold information on performance on its sites and by its contractors.” The Department of Energy and Climate Change has said it agrees with this, and other committee recommendations, such as asking the National Audit Office to investigate whether there has been any improvement in the management of Sellafield a year into the contract extension.
The Government Response is contained in the April 2014 Treasury Minutes.