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UK Has £10 Billion Per Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning Bottomless Pit

21st November 2023

The decommissioning costs for the UK's nuclear generation are coming home to roost, and they are laying golden eggs for the firms that won the business. For UK citizens, not so much. Despite the very high costs of both the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Site C, the rapidly rising costs of clean up and the much cheaper alternatives available, the country's current administration remains committed to the technology. Something is likely to give.

The UK is like the USA and France, a western nuclear military power. They built and operated four nuclear powered submarines with nuclear missiles and two nuclear powered aircraft carriers. That gave them one of the preconditions for success for commercial nuclear electricity generation.

They built all of the 14 shut down and 9 currently operating nuclear generation plants between 1957 and 1995, satisfying the conditions of success of a three to four decade build out to maintain master builders, creation of a nuclear construction industry with skilled, certified and security validated resources, and building a couple of dozen reactors to amortize the national program across.

They built all reactors with a very narrow set of designs, first the Magnox which also created weapons grade plutonium and then the AGR which was a modified Magnox optimized for electricity generation, not plutonium manufacturing. The high similarity and only two designs across all 23 reactors satisfied another criteria for success of a nuclear program.

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