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Nuclear Decommissioning Costs Soar

The cost of decommissioning ageing nuclear power sites has risen "rapidly" in the past few years by £12bn to £73bn, according to an official report.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said costs were rising, even for the most imminent work. It said the industry faced "significant challenges".

Greenpeace says the uncertainty makes building more reactors "reckless".

The estimated £73bn cost of decommissioning the UK's old nuclear sites is 18% higher than an estimate given in 2003.

The NAO report said the sum partly reflected "a more complete assessment of the range of work needed to be done".

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said while there was a better idea about "the scale of the task", the "estimates of costs to the taxpayer had continued to rise".

The cost of decommissioning ageing nuclear power sites has risen "rapidly" in the past few years by £12bn to £73bn, according to an official report.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said costs were rising, even for the most imminent work. It said the industry faced "significant challenges".

Greenpeace says the uncertainty makes building more reactors "reckless".

The estimated £73bn cost of decommissioning the UK's old nuclear sites is 18% higher than an estimate given in 2003.

The NAO report said the sum partly reflected "a more complete assessment of the range of work needed to be done".

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said while there was a better idea about "the scale of the task", the "estimates of costs to the taxpayer had continued to rise".

'Unforeseen expenses'

Edward Leigh MP, Conservative chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said that while the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) had "come a long way in planning what needs to be done", it was "worrying" that estimates for future work were still rising.

"Decommissioning relies in part on income from increasingly unreliable plants, and unforeseen expenses continually pop up.

"These factors combine and disrupt plans, slowing down the decommissioning process," he said.

Environmental campaigners said the Government should heed the warnings of the NAO report.

Nathan Argent, nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace, said: "That we can't properly estimate the cost of dealing with our legacy wastes, let alone resolve what to do with them, underscores the fact that plans to build a second generation of new reactors are pure recklessness."