Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

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Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Non-departmental public body overview
Formed 1 April 2005
Preceding Non-departmental public body
  • Coal and Nuclear Liabilities Unit
Jurisdiction United Kingdom
Headquarters Herdus House, Westlakes Science & Technology Park, Moor Row, Cumbria
Employees 300
Minister responsible
Non-departmental public body executives
  • John Clarke, Chief Executive
  • Stephen Henwood, Chairman
Child agencies

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body of the British Department of Energy and Climate Change, formed by the Energy Act 2004. It evolved from the Coal and Nuclear Liabilities Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry. It came into existence during 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. The 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. The NDA determines the overall strategy and priorities for managing decommissioning.

Although the NDA itself only employs 300 staff, its annual budget is £3.2 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 United States.



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 (SLCs). The management of the SLCs is contracted out to different Parent Body Organisations (PBOs), which are owned by private companies.[1]

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 operates services on behalf of the NDA for the management and transportation of nuclear fuels.


NDA increasing estimates of remaining cost of decommissioning and clean-up[4]
Year of
Sellafield Other NDA sites Total
(£ billions, discounted)
2009-10 25.2 19.9 45.1
2010-11 32.7 16.5 49.2
2011-12 37.2 15.6 52.9
2012-13 42.0 16.9 58.9
2013-14 47.9 17.0 64.9

In 2005 the cost of decommissioning these sites was planned at £55.8 billion, with Sellafield requiring £31.5 billion.[5] 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.[6] In 2008 estimated decommissioning costs increased to £73.6 billion, or after taking account of discount rates, £44.1 billion.[7] A 2006 estimate foresaw £14bn of offsetting income from reprocessing fuel at Sellafield.[6] In 2009 the NDA sold land near three existing reactor sites for expected new nuclear power stations, for over £200m.[8]

In 2013 a critical Public Accounts Committee report stated that the private consortium managing Sellafield has failed to reduce costs and delays. Since 2005 the annual costs of operating Sellafield had increased from £900 million to about £1.6 billion. The estimated lifetime cost of dealing with the Sellafield site had increased to £67.5 billion.[9][10] In March 2012, the total undiscounted cost of decommissioning all sites was estimated at £100 billion.[11] In 2014, the undiscounted decommissioning cost estimate for Sellafield was increased to £110 billion.[12]

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.[13] 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. "Urenco takes on Capenhurst site". World Nuclear News. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Magnox Limited, Magnox Sites (11 January 2011)
  4. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - Progress on the Sellafield site: an update (PDF) (Report). National Audit Office. March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. NDA Strategy - draft for consultation (PDF) (Report). Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 2005. p. 66. Retrieved 7 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Nuclear clean-up 'to cost £70bn'". BBC News. 30 March 2006. Retrieved 2010-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Annual Report & Accounts 2007/08". Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Retrieved 2010-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Danny Fortson and Dominic O’Connell (29 March 2009). "Prices soar as bidders fight for nuclear sites". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Sellafield clean-up cost reaches 67.5bn, says report". BBC. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Terry Macalister (4 February 2013). "Sellafield management sharply criticised by Commons committee". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Managing risk at Sellafield (PDF). Committee of Public Accounts (Report). House of Commons. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Gosden, Emily (23 June 2014). "Britain's nuclear clean-up bill soars to £110bn". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Alistair Darling announces the formation of the National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (30/06/06).

External links