UK nuclear lab gets new management
Dec 3, 1999
From April next year, the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) will be run by a consortium consisting of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), the Serco engineering group and the US Lockheed Martin Corporation. The new group - called AWE Management Ltd - will be split equally between the three partners, and will take on a £2.2 bn ($3.5 bn) 10-year contract. With over 4000 employees, AWE is the home of the UK nuclear weapons programme, and over half of AWE's work involves the manufacture, maintenance and testing of nuclear weapons and related research.
The UK government has been trying for some time to incorporate private-sector practices into government-run research centres. AWE Management replaces Hunting-BRAE, who were awarded a seven-year contract to manage the UK nuclear programme in 1993. BNFL is expected to manage waste, decommissioning and "legacy clean-up" operations, Lockheed will control weapons and technology, while Serco will run the administration of the facility. The group is already considering closing AWE's Burghfield site in Berkshire, and in the next four years all of AWE's services are expected to move to Aldermaston, AWE's main research facility. The number of staff is also predicted to drop to 3000 because of rationalisation and a reduction in the number of UK nuclear warheads.