Legal challenges from losing bidders look like delaying start of work on the UK’s £7Bn nuclear decommissioning process, putting 3,000 nuclear engineering jobs on hold during a potentially protracted battle.
United States based Energy Solutions, which bid for the work with Bechtel, is taking the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to court after losing the contract that was awarded last month to the Cavendish Fluor Partnership, a joint venture of Babcock and Fluor. Bechtel says it is not taking part in the legal action, thought to be for several hundred millions of pounds, which alleges that the process for assessing bids was incorrect and the conclusion arrived at was wrong.
CH2M Hill, which was part of a consortium including Serco and Areva, and Rolls Royce, which was in a consortium with Amec and Atkins, have also been reported to be considering legal action.
A successful challenge could mean that the work has to be tendered for again. The winning bid was selected after a two year procurement process from four tender submissions which were evaluated against a range of criteria including cost, health, safety and security, technical rationale, commercial terms and approach to socio economics.
The contract for decommissioning and cleaning up 12 of the UK’s 25 nuclear sites was one of the largest ever tendered by the UK government, and is the latest of a line of major project awards to be challenged in the courts.
Work was expected to start in September following a mandatory five month standstill period while the contract was finalised and legal processes completed. When the contract award was announced in March the NDA said the winning bid would save at least £1Bn in the decommissioning programme of the 12 nuclear sites over a 14 year period. NDA Chief Executive John Clarke said at the time:
"We have undergone a comprehensive and rigorous process aimed at securing the best possible parent body for these challenging sites. CFP bring a successful track record and extensive nuclear experience that will bring enormous benefits to the decommissioning and clean up programme.”