The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) echoes the concerns of the largest trade union in the UK, Unite, over the recent court ruling against the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on its awarding of the ‘clean up’ and decommissioning contract for 12 Magnox nuclear reactor sites. It also calls for the UK Government to conduct an independent inquiry into this troubling ruling.
A court case had been brought by Energy Solutions, which had bid in a consortium including Bechtel, for the £7bn contract to clean up and decommission 12 Magnox sites. In the event, the NDA awarded the contract to Babcock and Fluor, in a consortium operating now as Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP).
In his ruling, Justice Peter Fraser said that the NDA had “manipulated” and “fudged” the tender process for the contract.
Furthermore, Justice Fraser ruled that, had the NDA correctly applied its own evaluation rules, Babcock and Fluor would have been disqualified from the tender process. He also noted that the NDA had made “many manifest errors” in reviewing the Energy Solutions’ bid.
The ruling concluded that the NDA had “manipulated” the valuation process in order to avoid disqualifying the Babcock-Fluor bid. In his written ruling Justice Fraser wrote: “In my judgment the NDA sought to avoid the consequence of disqualification by fudging the evaluation.” Justice Fraser also found that the NDA “fell short” in meeting its obligations of “transparency and equal judgment”.
The court case could lead to a claim for damages by Energy Solutions, which could potentially cost the taxpayer – as the NDA is a state owned company – as much as £200 million. (1)
In its statement Unite said: “Unite remains very concerned about the implications of this High Court decision. The court case revealed a can of worms and prompts the question: ‘What is going on?’
It is clear that the NDA has a number of serious questions to answer about the lack of transparency in the awarding of the contract to CFP and in relation to the rapidly escalating costs of the ‘clean up’ contract, the bill for which will have to be picked up, ultimately, by the taxpayer”.
Unite go on to say: “All this calls into sharp relief the function, role and operation of the NDA”.
Unite note the significant redundancies that have occurred since the new contract was put in place by Cavendish Fluor and negative challenges placed on employee terms and conditions. (2)
NFLA are just as concerned with the very serious comments made in his ruling by Justice Fraser. For an organisation such as the NDA that makes much about its openness and transparency, these comments clearly dispute that claim. NFLA agrees with Unite that the Energy Secretary Greg Clarke should instigate a full, open and transparent inquiry into this issue and determine whether the NDA is fully competent in the awarding of such valuable and expensive contracts.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy added:
I am concerned with the troubling comments made by Justice Fraser in his ruling against the NDA over the huge £7bn contract to clean up 12 Magnox nuclear sites. Serious questions need to be asked about the competence of the NDA in this case, and an independent inquiry could do that. I urge Greg Clarke to consider the court’s ruling and order such an inquiry.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Financial Times, 29th July 2016
(2) Unite Media Release, 15th August 2016