Britain sets up nuclear funding watchdog

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Britain has set up a watchdog to ensure that decommissioning the nuclear power plants that the government wants to be built, and disposing of the waste, does not cost the taxpayer anything.

The Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board (NLFAB) will scrutinise how the companies planning to build the new power plants will pay to shut them at the end of their useful lives and clean up the radioactive waste they produce.

"We've always said the taxpayer should be protected from the costs of decommissioning and waste disposal arising from new nuclear power stations," Energy and Climate Change Minister Mike O'Brien said.

"The NLFAB will be another piece of armour to help ensure they get that protection."

The NLFAB, which will be chaired Lady Balfour of Burleigh and is expected to meet in January next year, is to study the Funded Decommissioning Programmes submitted by potential operators of Britain's next generation of nuclear reactors.

"This will help ensure that energy companies pay for the full costs of decommissioning and full share of costs associated with nuclear waste management and disposal," said Balfour, who also chairs the Nuclear Liabilities Fund.

The NLF was set up to pay for some of the long-term costs of closing Britain's existing nuclear power plants that were built by the state but are now owned and operated by British Energy. (Reporting by Daniel Fineren, editing by Anthony Barker)

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