MPs launched a scathing attack yesterday over failings that have allowed the cost of nuclear waste at the Sellafield site to soar with the decommissioning bill reaching £67.5 billion.
The public accounts committee said the authority dealing with the country's nuclear legacy had not been able to show what value it was giving the taxpayer.
It was also not clear what wider economic benefits had been achieved from the "enormous" amount of public money spent at Sellafield - currently around £1.6bn a year.
Successive governments had failed to get to grips with the "critical problem," with the result that "an enormous legacy of nuclear waste has been allowed to build up on the Sellafield site," the committee said.
"The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) believes that its decommissioning plan is credible but it has not been sufficiently tested and uncertainties remain - not least around what precisely is in the waste that lies in the legacy ponds and silos," it added.
The committee warned that it was unclear how long it would take to deal with the hazardous radioactive waste and how much it would cost the taxpayer.
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said taxpayers were not getting a good deal from the NDA's arrangement with international consortium Nuclear Management Partners on a plan to improve Sellafield Limited's management of the site.
"Last year the consortium was rewarded with £54 million in fees, despite only two out of 14 major projects being on track," she said.
Responding to the criticism NDA chief executive John Clarke said: "Prior to the NDA's inception there was no credible lifetime plan for Sellafield and tough decisions about how we ultimately decommission the site had simply been put off for future generations to deal with.
"We are now facing up to those challenges and for the first time we have a proper plan in place for the decommissioning of Sellafield which lays out in detail programmes of work for every area of the site."
But the GMB union's national officer Gary Smith highlighted the contract had been in trouble for some time.
"This was supposed to be a flagship contract for the private sector in the nuclear industry and it looks like a shambles.
"The bill for Sellafield and the wages for the top bosses have certainly improved but little else has at the site."
And the Prospect union's Mike Graham said: "Now is the time for closer scrutiny.
"NMP Ltd should not only be called to account but it should question whether the senior management team at the site are delivering the promised commitments."
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