Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom formed by the Energy Act 2004. It came into existence in late 2004, and took on its main functions on 1 April 2005. Its purpose is to deliver the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK’s civil nuclear legacy in a safe and cost-effective manner, and where possible to accelerate programmes of work that reduce hazard. NDA does not directly manage the UK's nuclear sites. it oversees the work through contracts with specially designed companies known as site licence companies. NDA determines the overall strategy and priorities for managing decommissioning.

Although the NDA itself only employs 300 staff, its annual budget is £2.2 billion. The vast majority of the NDA budget is spent through contracts with site licence companies, who also sub contract to other companies which provide special services. The NDA aims to do this by introducing innovation and contractor expertise through a series of competitions similar to the model that has been used in the US.




The main objectives of NDA are to:

  • eliminate site hazards and develop waste solutions;
  • ensure the highest standards in safety, security and environmental management;
  • build an effective world class industry;
  • gain full approval and support from stakeholders (employees, contractors, government, local communities and general public); and
  • make best use of assets and maximise value-for-money.


Responsibility for operating the sites has been restructured into six Site Licence Companies. The management of the Site Licence Companies is contracted out to different Parent Body Organisations, which are owned by private companies.[1]

  • Sellafield Ltd was previously BNFL's British Nuclear Group subsidiary. It comprises Sellafield nuclear chemical facility, Calder Hall, Windscale and the Capenhurst uranium enrichment plant. Its Parent Body Organisation is Nuclear Management Partners Ltd, a consortium of URS, AMEC and Areva.
  • Research Sites Restoration Ltd comprises the Harwell and Winfrith facilities. Its Parent Body Organisation is also UKAEA Ltd.
  • Springfields Fuels Ltd comprises the Springfields nuclear fuel production facility near Preston, Lancashire. Its Parent Body Organisation is Westinghouse Electric Company, a subsidiary of Toshiba.

On its creation, the NDA also took over ownership of Direct Rail Services, the rail freight operating company set up by BNFL in 1995 to transport nuclear materials.

The NDA is also the owner of International Nuclear Services, which manages contracts on behalf of the NDA for operations such as the storage and transport of nuclear fuels.


In 2005 the cost of decommissioning these sites was planned at £55.8 billion, with Sellafield requiring £31.5 billion. However in 2006 the NDA reported that the cost of cleaning up existing waste was higher than previously thought, and gave a new estimated decommissioning cost of about £72 billion over a 100 year period.[3] In 2008 estimated decommissioning costs increased to £73.6 billion, or after taking account of discount rates £44.1 billion.[4] A 2006 estimate foresaw £14bn of offsetting income from reprocessing fuel at Sellafield.[3] In 2009 the NDA sold land near three existing reactor sites for expected new nuclear power stations, for over £200m.[5]

National Nuclear Laboratory

In 2006, the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced his support for a National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to be based on the British Technology Centre at Sellafield and Nexia Solutions.[6] The NDA, as the owner of Sellafield site and the funder of majority of research required across the nuclear estate, was involved establishing the NNL in 2009. The NNL complements other initiatives to develop a sustainable workforce such as the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) network, including the development of Energus in West Cumbria, alongside complementary research and development facilities such as the Dalton Cumbria Institute.


  1. ^ NDA Confirms Names of New Site Licence Companies, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (14 February 2007)
  2. ^ Magnox Limited, Magnox Sites (11 January 2011)
  3. ^ a b "Nuclear clean-up 'to cost £70bn'". BBC News. 30 March 2006. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  4. ^ "Annual Report & Accounts 2007/08". Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  5. ^ Danny Fortson and Dominic O’Connell (29 March 2009). "Prices soar as bidders fight for nuclear sites". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  6. ^ Alistair Darling announces the formation of the National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (30/06/06).

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