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UK agency raises estimated cost of nuclear clean-up

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) The agency overseeing the dismantling of old British nuclear power stations raised the estimated cost of operations, closure and clean-up to 72.3 billion pounds today.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) latest estimate compares with a previous figure of 70.2 billion pounds.

Britain gets about a fifth of its power from nuclear energy but is committed to closing all but one of its ageing nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.

A government-commissioned energy review came out in favour of building a new generation of nuclear generators, arguing nuclear power had an important role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and guaranteeing energy supply.

Nuclear power has also benefited from a debate over energy security after disruptions to Russian gas exports in January.

The total includes 50.8 billion pounds for decommissioning and clean-up of the 20 civil nuclear sites supervised by the NDA, 7.5 billion pounds for cleaning contaminated land and 14 billion pounds for operating sites during their remaining life.

NDA officials said the 14 billion pounds was roughly covered by income from operations and would not fall to the taxpayer.

The NDA, created in 2005, said the rise in its estimate of decommissioning costs was due to its better understanding of the costs involved in cleaning up the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in northwest England.

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