Nirex to become independent

Publish date: September 16, 2004

Written by: Erik Martiniussen

The company charged with finding a long-term management strategy for the UK’s radioactive waste, Nirex, is to be owned by an independent company to be set up by the government.

The UK’s radwaste producers currently hold shares in Nirex. These are: British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA), and British Energy. The Ministry of Defence also provides funds for the company but is not a shareholder.

Now, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett will make Nirex independent of the industry and bring the company under greater government control. In a statement written to the British parliament Beckett said she would secure the companies independence from the industry, by setting up a new government-owned company limited by guarantee (CLG) to hold the shares and oversee Nirex’s business.

The new arrangement is to become fully operational from April 1st 2005. On the same day, the Nuclear Decommission Authority (NDA) will take over all responsibility for the decommissioning of public sector civil nuclear sites, and begin funding Nirex.

Chris Murray, Nirex’s managing director, told Nuclear Engineering magazine that “the conditions are now right to allow publicly acceptable progress to be made.”

The UK’s radioactive waste management strategy is currently under review, and a long-term strategy for waste management is not expected before 2006.