British Nuclear Fuels is facing losses of more than £20m on a £300m fuel fabrication plant at Sellafield.
BNFL had hoped to start active commissioning of the Mox Plant which will produce a mixed oxide fuel of uranium and plutonium on 1 April. But it has had to wait for Environment Agency economic assessment.
The company said each month’s delay since 1 July had cost it £1.5m.
While the EA concluded there was a viable economic case, the matter now goes to environment and agriculture ministers for a final decision.
However, given the wider political issues of dealing with plutonium, other government departments may get involved. This could extend the delay by months and make BNFL liable for penalty payments on contracts already signed.
A spokesman said: ‘The longer the delay goes on, the greater the commercial penalties.’
BNFL windfall, page four