Charged with cleaning up 17 of the UK’s nuclear sites in a safe and sustainable fashion, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) takes its environmental and community responsibilities extremely seriously. Alan Cumming, group director of nuclear operations at the NDA, points out that as the major employer in some of the more remote areas under its charge, the NDA is highly aware of the need to encourage new business start-ups and initiatives in those areas through the duration of its clean-up operations. “We have put sustainability, with respect to both the environment and the local communities involved, front and centre in everything we do,” he comments. As a young man Cumming saw at first hand the devastation caused to local communities by the closure of major steel works. “We work very closely with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government,” he says. “The NDA is committed to working closely with the communities around nuclear sites that are undergoing decommissioning to enable those communities to transition the local economy successfully to create a prosperous future. At the same time, driving a strong environmental case within Scotland is hugely important to the NDA and to me personally. “In Scotland, the NDA’s mission is to clear up the nuclear legacy at Chapelcross, Hunterston A and Dounreay, and to address the future of those areas post-decommissioning,” he adds. At Dounreay, for example, some 10 per cent of the local jobs in Caithness are dependent on the NDA’s activities at the site. The NDA itself employs a team of over 1,200 at Dounreay, supported by some 1,000 external contractors. With decommissioning scheduled to go on until at least the 2030s, the level of local dependence on the site is high. Add Hunterston and Chapelcross to the mix and that reaches upwards of 2,000 people. The organisation also supports an active apprenticeship and graduate programme, and works with local authorities and other agencies to raise skills in local communities. There are currently 660 apprentices and 200 graduates across the NDA estate in the UK, with 46 per cent of graduates female – an increase of 20 per cent over the last three years.
Herald 28th Sept 2020 read more »