Whitehaven News

The Whitehaven News


Thursday, July 05, 2001

BNFL says it must improve performan-ces in order to protect jobs - following another huge operating loss of 210 million.

Sellafield only managed to break even last year on what should be its biggest earner - fuel reprocessing.

BNFL's anxiety to get its expensive Sellafield Mox plant in to production and safeguard Cumbrian jobs comes over loud and clear in an annual financial report. The government has to give the go-ahead before production can start.

Reprocessing from Thorp and Magnox is part of BNFL's spent fuel management and business engineering group. The latter, according to the company, "produced a significantly worst financial performance in comparison to the previous record output year".

Low throughputs in the Thorp and Magnox plants, caused by "technical difficulties" which halted reprocessing, are being blamed.

New chairman Hugh Collum said there has been significant success in rebuilding customer confidence, following the Mox fuel data falsifications.

However, chief executive Norman Askew said: "We are determined to keep raising our game.

"I am pleased we have made substantial pro-gress but we cannot afford to become complacent about the challenges that lie ahead.

"BNFL has an important strategic role to play in the UK energy market and we are determined to turn the business around as swiftly as possible.

"A good start has been made.

"The company is also a major employer and many thousands of jobs depend on its success.

"This is particularly true of Cumbria and is another important reason why agreement to open the new Mox plant at Sellafield is vital."

BNFL made an overall pre-tax loss of 66 million (46m net). Although the actual operating loss amounted to a massive 210m before tax and "exceptionals" (one-off payments on the debit side), most of this - 199m - came from the shutdown of Wylfa, the company's biggest nuclear power station.

Only 3 million profit was achieved in the spent fuel (reprocessing group) on a turnover of 549m - a 50m drop.

BNFL has recorded a good performance in its fuel manufacture business as well as much improvement in decommissioning and nuclear clean-up work.

But Mr Collum warn-ed: "Although there has been a significant im-provement in operating performance in some parts of the business there are areas where performance was unacceptable."

He describes the longer-term picture for the global nuclear industry as being brighter.

"In the short term, as we build on more robust foundations we must continue to improve our operating performance and agree the way forward," he said.