Bidders for nuclear work are gearing up to fight for a multibillion pound contract to manage the clean-up of the Dounreay site on the northern coast of Scotland

On Monday, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority issued a tender seeking a consortium to oversee the restoration operation at the derelict site, which contains three former nuclear reactors. The programme is valued at about £3.6bn.

The Pentland Alliance is regarded as the frontrunner for the job. Members of this consortium, which includes Amec, CH2M Hill and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), have been seconded to senior posts at Dounreay over the past three years.

However, in a surprise move last week, the commercial arm of UKAEA chose engineer Babcock International rather than Amec to be its buyer, which raised questions about the future of the Pentland Alliance. However, it is thought that the consortium will continue.

Meanwhile American engineer URS, which is leading the group that is handling the £17bn clean-up at Sellafield in Cumbria, said it was “actively considering” whether or not to bid.

The closing date for submission of prequalification questionnaires is 9 October 2009.