Aldermaston contracts - Sunday Times
A 25-YEAR CONTRACT to manage Britain’s nuclear weapons stockpile may
be torn up by the government amid spiralling costs and overruns.
Concerns are mounting over poor performance on a series of key
contracts at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the top-secret
nuclear research and warhead manufacturer at Aldermaston, Berkshire.
The site is run by AWE Management, a venture split equally between the
embattled outsourcer Serco, US engineer Jacobs and defence giant
Lockheed Martin. AWE Management was awarded a 10-year, £2.2bn
contract to run the site in 2000, later extended to 2025. Taxpayers
have pumped about £9bn into AWE since 2000. But industry sources say
AWE is wrestling with delays on projects such as Pegasus, a new
complex for enriching uranium that was valued at £634m in 2011.
Pegasus was halted in January amid a review, according to a document
from the Office for Nuclear Regulation. AWE is also said to be
struggling with Project Mensa, a £734m facility for assembling and
disassembling warheads. The fate of the contract is sensitive as
negotiations over the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent will
play a pivotal role in May’s election.