Decommissioning goes ahead as new build stalls

Posted on 8 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

Companies invested in nuclear new build have seen procurement stagnation in the wake of Fukishima but decommissioning contracts are still bringing wealth

A consortium of nuclear suppliers yesterday succeeded in securing a multi million pound decommissioning project from Sellafield. Comprising James Fisher Nuclear React Engineering Shepley Engineers Stobbarts WYG Engineering and Westinghouse Electric Company the consortium, named Cumbria Nuclear Solutions Ltd (CNSL), will be guaranteed business for the next four years off the back of the contract.

Companies such as heavy engineering firm, Davy Markham, and specialist fan maker, Halifax Fan have seen their plans for supplying nuclear new build in the UK enter a state of limbo in the wake of the Japanese Fukishima disaster and the subsequent policy u-turn in Germay’s nuclear policy. This lucrative contract for CNSL however, shows that the nuclear industry can still offer significant opportunities for the medium term. The estimated revenues from work on this new project are around £30m per year over four years.

CNSL has global experience of decommissioning projects and the network of companies have built a carefully structured skills base which it can leverage as a team. CNSL is an exemplar for industry collaboration and its achievement in winning this Sellafield contract shows that shared resources, the group has a pooled staff base of 16,500, will also bring shared benefits.

The group first tried and tested its strength in number in 2006 when it succeed in winning Sellafield’s four- year Decommissioning Framework Agreement against robust competition from multi-national organisations. During this first framework project the team delivered a number of successful projects including the deployment of innovative size-reduction techniques and contamination control measures to strip out a highly active cell which was large enough to house the US Statue of Liberty. The radiation in the cell was higher than anticipated, but deployment of the N-VisageTM technology gave good visibility of the location of the sources and enabled the worker dose-uptake to be minimised.

Phil Gerrard of James Fisher Nuclear said “CNSL has demonstrated it is a flexible team which can successfully tackle a wide range of decommissioning projects. I am looking forward to a fresh batch of challenging projects from the new framework.”

Looking at the long-term however, decommissioning projects are an unsustainable source of wealth creation. While nuclear new-build procurement has stalled for the time being companies invested in supplying the industry are confident that work will resume. Kevin Smith, general manager, primary components at Roll-Royce’s nuclear business told TM: “There is just no other choice for the UK. It’s nuclear or the lights go out.” A representative from Sheffield-based Davy Markham however indicated that it would be a couple of years yet before tangible new build benefits started to be recorded by suppliers.