1. On 15 and 16 November 2004 the Scottish Affairs
Committee visited the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
site at Dounreay. We undertook the visit as one of a series of
informal briefing meetings we hold regularly in Scotland to consider
various matters of interest and concern. In this particular instance,
we wished to ascertain how the UKAEA management and the Doureay
workforce were meeting the challenge of decommissioning the site.
2. At the time we undertook the visit, we did not
intend our on-site discussions to develop into a full-scale inquiry.
However, whilst at Dounreay, we identified three issues of fundamental
concern and, at our next formal meeting at the House of Commons,
we agreed that we should undertake an inquiry to examine these
3. A press release was issued on 7 December announcing
the inquiry. The Committee would be investigating: (i) the future
job prospects for people currently employed at the Dounreay plant
when it is finally decommissioned; (ii) the long-term strategy
for the management of radioactive waste, in particular, intermediate-level
waste; and (iii) how can the shortfall in energy output be met
once nuclear power no longer provides Scotland's energy needs?
4. The Committee held four sessions of oral evidence
at Westminster, taking evidence from the United Kingdom Atomic
Energy Authority (UKAEA), from the Scottish Renewables Forum (including
representatives from Scottish Coal, from Wavegen and from ScottishPower),
from Professor James Lovelock and from Scottish and Southern Energy.
5. Due to the uncertainty about the date of the General
Election, the Committee took the conscious decision to conclude
its inquiry by the time the House rose for the Easter Adjournment
2005. Had it been a Parliamentary Session which we knew would
end in the autumn, we would have wished to round off the inquiry
by holding a few more evidence sessions with, for example, the
Scottish Executive, the Department of Trade and Industry and the
Nuclear Decommissioning Agency.
6. In addition to the oral evidence sessions, the
Committee undertook two informal visits: to Dounreay, which precipitated
the inquiry, and then, in February 2005 to Illinois and California
in the United States. In Chicago the Committee met or visited
representatives from the Economic Development Department of Zion
(a small city to the north of Chicago which, because of the recent
closure of a nuclear power plant in the city, was experiencing
problems similar to those which could be faced by Thurso), Exelon
Nuclear, to discuss, in particular, spent fuel and decommissioning
strategy, the Chicago Green Technology Centre (the Mayor's showcase
for sustainable architecture and alternative energy sources).
The Committee also met officials from the United States Department
of Energy, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
and the City of Chicago Department of Energy.
7. In Sacramento the Committee visited the California
Energy Commission, to discuss California State policies and practices
in the decommissioning of facilities and renewable energy programs
and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) including
a visit to the Rancho Seco nuclear facility to discuss experiences
in decommissioning this facility. The Committee also met with
local representatives of other organisations specialising in renewable
energy technologies, for example, the Northern California Power
Agency, Navigant Consulting, Theroux Environmental and Beckley
Singleton. Finally, in San Francisco we met with the San Francisco
Public Utilities Commission.
8. The Committee wishes to place on record its appreciation
to all those who gave their time in meeting the Committee during
its inquiry. The Committee also thanks those officials at UKAEA
for their assistance and at the British Consulates General in
Chicago and in San Francisco for organising the visits on the
Committee's behalf and for providing helpful background briefing