Magnox & EDF sign staff transfer deal

TWO nuclear power station owners have signed a deal to help enable staff to transfer to new sites rather than lose their jobs.

Sizewell C and Bradwell operators Magnox Ltd has come to an agreement with Sizewell B and C site owner EDF Energy which will mean some staff can transfer as their roles become redundant at the Magnox sites, most of which are currently in various stages of decommissioning.

While Magnox is owned by an American firm, Energy Solutions, it works on behalf of the taxpayer via the owner of its 10 sites, which is the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Transferring staff to EDF, which is likely to build a new Sizewell C station as well as managing Sizewell B, means potential redundancy cost savings for taxpayers.

Magnox employs a total of 3,614 staff, and over the next five years this is expected to reduce by about 1,000. Sizewell C employs 363 staff, but its workforce could drop to about 200 post 2013/14. Bradwell has 179 employees, likely to drop to less than 100 after about 2015 when it is expected to enter its ‘care and maintenance’ phase.

Bradwell is currently in an accelerated decommissioning phase likely to go on for about another four years, which involves cleaning and clearing it ready to put it on a ‘care and maintenance’ footing.

Meanwhile, Sizewell A is still de-fuelling - or transferring its spent fuel to Sellafield for re-processing. This phase is likely to continue until about 2013 and it may then have to wait in a queue to enter into its accelerated decommissioning phase but other works will go ahead. The overall timetable for the decommissioning phase for sites is being looked at because of financial constraints but may end up beating the 2034 schedule by seven years.

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The agreement between the two companies will formalise the options available for some Magnox staff who want to transfer their skills to nearby generating stations owned by EDF Energy. However, staff made redundant by Magnox will still be able to apply for roles. By carefully managing this release of staff, Magnox hopes to retain essential skills for as long as they are needed.

Magnox managing director Neil Baldwin said: “Whilst it is clear that the future of Magnox - beyond the next five years – is all about decommissioning, this type of agreement provides options for our employees who see their future in nuclear power and electricity generation.”

Dr Andy Spurr, managing director of EDF Energy’s existing nuclear business, said: “The agreement recognises our mutual interests in maintaining the pool of suitably qualified and experienced people within the UK nuclear businesses and will enable us to recruit high-calibre employees to meet skill requirements of both organisations and, importantly, retain key skills and experience within the nuclear industry.

“EDF Energy’s plans for new nuclear will create thousands of jobs over the next few years. We also need to continue to run our existing fleet of nuclear power stations around the UK. We are doing a lot with schools and colleges to encourage young people to study STEM subjects and join the industry as apprentices and graduate trainees. But the addition of staff who are already experienced in the nuclear industry is an opportunity not be missed.”