Magnox court case ‘scandal’ prompts probe call into th...

Magnox court case ‘scandal’ prompts probe call into the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

15 August 2016

The ‘scandal’ about the transparency and cost of ‘cleaning up’ Britain’s 12 Magnox nuclear reactors needs to be investigated by business secretary Greg Clark, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 15 August).

The union has called on Mr Clark, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy to examine how the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) conducts its affairs, following a recent High Court case.

The court ruled that the NDA had failed to treat all bidders the same when it awarded the 2014 contract to clean up the Magnox reactors to Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP). The successful High Court challenge came from failed bidder EnergySolutions which is now in line to receive damages running into tens of millions of pounds.

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne 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.

“Greg Clark, who has energy in his ministerial portfolio, needs to launch an urgent investigation into the way the NDA conducts its affairs which, according to the High Court judgement, leaves much to be desired. Serious questions need to asked – and answered by the NDA management.
“These questions include the tortuous bidding system, the removal of a company, EnergySolutions that had done the job well for over 10 years and the cost implications which had been proven to be technically non-compliant.

“All this calls into sharp relief the function, role and operation of the NDA.

“After taking over the contract, CFP announced massive redundancies which have now been carried out. Unite wants to know whether this cost-cutting was really necessary and are the new staffing levels appropriate for the job. 

“The government, through its 2016 Enterprise Act, forced through legislation designed to cut the terms and conditions of Magnox employees, including exit payments and is now seeking to save a large tranche of money from an appropriately funded pension scheme.

“A loyal workforce that has worked in a particularly hazardous job have been treated scandalously and are subject to mean-spirited job cuts and conditions; changes which are as a result of Treasury-driven cost savings. 

“On top of this, there appears to be a lack of confidence in the NDA to get the programme right. 

“The treatment of highly skilled and specialist staff is at the centre of this scandal. The result will be a reduction in morale and, consequently, there must be concerns about the future of nuclear safety as well.”

Unite, which has 45,000 members in the energy sector, said that the government was at ‘sixes and sevens’ over future energy policy, particularly in light of the recent decision by prime minister Theresa May to put the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station ‘on hold’.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.