Revealed: the £700 million price of AWE's new uranium facility

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The full costs of 'Project Pegasus', the proposed new enriched uranium facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston, have been revealed to Nuclear Information Service following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Information provided by the Ministry of Defence following a ruling by the Information Commissioner shows that the new facility at Aldermaston was priced at £746,765,140 when it received 'initial gate' approval in 2007.

The Ministry of Defence initially refused to disclose the information on grounds of commercial confidentiality, but the Information Commissioner ruled that it was in the public interest for the costs of the project to be released.

Project Pegasus will be constructed at Aldermaston to replace the ageing A45 facility, which falls short of modern safety design standards, and will manufacture enriched uranium components for nuclear warheads and reactor fuel for nuclear-powered submarines.

The costs of a parallel project in the United States, construction of a planned new uranium processing facility at the Y-12 nuclear plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, have spiralled from an estimated $1.4-$3.5 billion in 2006 to $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion at current prices.

The Ministry of Defence stated: "This funding, which includes Project Pegasus, was announced six years ago and will ensure we maintain our commitment to providing our vital nuclear deterrent. It is necessary to invest in the facilities at AWE, which will provide assurance that the existing Trident warhead stockpile is reliable and safe."

However, neither the original announcement of the construction programme at AWE nor subsequent parliamentary questions have disclosed the construction costs of Project Pegasus, which have emerged to public scrutiny for the first time as the result of this request.

Spending at Aldermaston in support of the UK's nuclear is continuing apace at a time when the armed forces are being cut significantly and service personnel are being issued with compulsory redundancy notices.

Download redacted copies of project appraisal documents and costings for Project Pegasus released under the Freedom of Information Act here: