UKAEA Limited is the commercial clean-up arm of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and is responsible for nuclear decommissioning, waste management and environmental remediation services, as well as nuclear new-build support services in the UK and the rest of Europe.
The decision to sell the division comes hot on the heels of the online sale of three lots of land adjacent to existing nuclear reactors by the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The fire sale of its nuclear assets is expected to add hundreds of millions of pounds to UK government coffers. Nuclear clean-up is going to be big business in the UK, and the NDA has already stated that it will spend about $107 billion on decommissioning older nuclear sites.
"As the UK moves towards an era of nuclear new build, this sale will increase efficiency, competition and value for money for the taxpayer in the decommissioning and clean-up work of old nuclear power stations," said Peter Mandelson, UK Secretary of State for Business.
UKAEA currently has decommissioning contracts at the Dounreay nuclear facility in Scotland and older Magnox nuclear sites: Harwell in Oxfordshire and Winfrith in Dorset.
The organization has also been working on removing isotopes from the Pile 2 reactor and inspecting the fire-damaged Pile 1 zone at the Windscale nuclear facility in Cumberland.
The division, which employs more than 200 people, has contracts abroad providing engineering design and documentation for decommissioning the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania and creating a waste repository in South Korea with the Korean Power Engineering Company.
"We believe that the UK and international nuclear decommissioning markets represent an exciting opportunity for UKAEA Limited to build a larger and more broadly based nuclear services company, based on UKAEA Limited's core skills, track record and brand," said Lady Judge, Chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. "The proposed sale will provide UKAEA Limited with a new ownership structure to help deliver its strategic plans and greater commercial focus on its operations."
Likely bidders for the division include UK-based consulting and engineering firm, AMEC plc, and U.S. energy company Fluor Corporation, which recently recorded record profits for 2008 and has other interests in the UK, including a 500-MW windfarm project off the Suffolk coast.