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The Nuclear Retreat

We coined the term, "Nuclear Retreat" here at Beyond Nuclear to counter the nuclear industry's preposterous "nuclear renaissance" propaganda campaign. You've probably seen "Nuclear Retreat" picked up elsewhere and no wonder - the alleged nuclear revival so far looks more like a lot of running away. On this page we will keep tabs on every latest nuclear retreat as more and more proposed new nuclear programs are canceled.

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Thursday
Apr062017

Westinghouse bankruptcy sparks “negative outlook” for U.S. nuclear construction projects, threatens U.S. taxpayers with $8.3 billion default

Toshiba’s decision to declare bankruptcy for its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power manufacturer continues to send shock waves to global economies at home and abroad. Both Moody's and Standard & Poor’s financial services have downgraded Westinghouse Electric’s partner Santee Cooper and a joint construction project for the completion of V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 to a “negative” outlook.  Also known as South Carolina Public Service Authority, the power company is a 45% owner along with SCANA for the construction of the two unit Westinghouse AP-1000 power reactor project which is sinking deeper into cost overruns and farther behind scheduled completion.  Additionally, given that the bankruptcy is legally termed as an “event of default,”  the U.S. taxpayer at increased risk to absorb an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for the dubious completion of two more Westinghouse AP-1000 units construction in Georgia at Vogtle Units 3 and 4.

Bloomberg reports that the Trump Administration is concerned by the global security issues raised by China’s interest in buying out Westinghouse Electric from Toshiba and is considering directly blocking the sale, encourage an American buyer or an alternative  non-Chinese “friendly” bidder or where the U.S. government itself invests in a bailout much like President Obama did for the U.S. automotive industry. China is already revealed behind nuclear espionage for Westinghouse Electric trade secrets to manufacture its own reactor designs.  The financial collapse of Westinghouse is figured to be part of the scheduled talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Thursday
Mar302017

Nuclear Fool's Day?! Good and bad news after Westinghouse bankruptcy announcement

The bankruptcy announcement of the nuclear manufacturer of roughly half of the world’s nuclear reactors, Westinghouse Electric Company, sent a reverberating but much anticipated shockwave throughout the entire global industry. The bankruptcy announcement is followed by a blinkered announcement by the United Kingdom’s Office of Nuclear Regulation for  design approval of a Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 pressurized water reactor project in England. NuGeneration Ltd is seeking to wade into the same financial tar pit that is swallowing whole reactor projects in the United States. NuGen wants a construction permit for three AP-1000 units for Moorside, England.

The bankruptcy filing is one more self-inflicted torpedo into the once lauded "nuclear renaissance" revealed as a relapse into the inherent financial failure of nuclear power. More specifically, the fate of four construction projects still stumbling forward in the United States is deeper in question.

As reported by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), four new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in the American Southeast were supposed to be commercially operational by April 1, 2017: Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia, and Summer Unit 2 in South Carolina, were scheduled to come online April 1, 2016; and Vogtle 4 and Summer 3 one year later. However, many billions of dollars of cost overruns, and years-long schedule delays, are the root cause of Japanese giant Toshiba's subsidiary, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Nuclear, declaring bankruptcy on March 29. Now, as stated by the chair of the GA Public Service Commission, "all bets are off," re: completion of all four reactors by the end of 2020, the current, delayed deadline.


As reflected in press statements by watchdog groups like Nuclear Watch South and SCAMA (a play on the name of nuclear utility SCANA), there is hope that the partially constructed reactors will be abandoned, and never operated. The good news is this would avert many decades of risk of catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity due to core meltdown(s), not to mention "routine" radiation releases; it would also avert the generation of thousands of tons of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste. The bad news is, ratepayers in both GA and SC have already paid through the nose for the partially constructed reactors. After nine rate hikes, nearly 20% of SC electric consumers' bill payments now go towards the Summer nuclear new build. Such advance cost recovery, or Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), "nuclear tax" surcharges are illegal in most states (for example, as decided by popular referendum in Missouri in 1976). In addition, Vogtle 3 & 4 were awarded an $8.3 billion federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantee by the Obama administration. If loan repayments go into default, the U.S. Treasury will lose that entire amount -- 15 times more money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default. Critics, including Beyond Nuclear, have warned about this economic moral hazard with a radioactive twist since nuclear loan guarantees were first proposed, in Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force Report in May 2001.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Toshiba CEO signals Westinghouse Nuclear is worthless, offers option to pay for sale of company

Nuclear power is and always will be really risky business. And to confirm that, the Toshiba–Westinghouse Nuclear crisis is widening and bankruptcy looms large.

Reuters reports Toshiba is “actively considering” a host of desperate financial actions to shore up against the approaching financial tsunami with the writedown of $6.3 billion in losses for nuke projects bogging down deeper and deeper in South Carolina and Georgia. The V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 and Vogtle Units 3 and 4 continue to fall further behind scheduled completion with still out-of-control construction costs. The corporate emergency actions now include paying another nuclear corporation to take on the majority of  share of its 2006 acquisition in Westinghouse Electric and  to financially “rehabilitate” the parent company by selling at least 50% of its holdings in its lucrative micro-memory chip business, NAND.

CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa went public to protect Toshiba from collapse of its Westinghouse Nuclear Division indicating that the “sale” option might actually be Toshiba offering to pay another nuclear corporation to take on a majority share. Korea Electric Power Corporation is being cited as the only likely player.  

In a wave of sell offs, Toshiba management has further announced it is considering the loss of ownership control of its global NAND business in semiconductor flash memory systems for computer servers, mobile devices, car navigation and more. Toshiba has been the leader and innovator in the semiconductor industry since 1984.

Toshiba has repeatedly postponed the announcement of its 3rd Quarter 2016 (April to December) Westinghouse losses. Those results were first due out on February 14, 2017 then pushed off to March 14, 2017. The announcement is now further delayed until April 11, 2017. The current delay is blamed on Toshiba’s failure to obtain an independent audit investigating “inappropriate pressure by certain senior managers” including former Westinghouse executive Danny Roderick who allegedly pressed hard to have  the Summer and Vogtle project losses understated. Additional accounting is also being required of Toshiba’s failing Stone & Webster nuclear construction business for those same projects. CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa's plan to protect Toshiba as parent company by selling off the majority share of its failing Westinghouse Nuclear Division increasingly appears more like offering free tickets to a tar pit party.  

Both the NAND and nuclear power operations are strategically important to Japan. Hence, the Abe government has entered into the negotiations.   

Moveover, back here in the United States, the Toshiba-Westinghouse debacle threatens a financial earthquake under the $8.3 billion federal nuclear loan guarantee that the U.S. Department of Energy put up for the two Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors still under construction at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power station. A bankruptcy puts U.S. taxpayers at risk for picking up much if not most of the cost of a default. The Vogtle loss with a Westinghouse bankruptcy could be up to 15 times more taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default.

Saturday
Jan282017

Toshiba (aka Westinghouse Electric) abandons new reactor construction business

The nuclear retreat continues as Toshiba Corporation announced on January 27, 2017 that it is abandoning the nuclear power construction business following an acknowledged $6+ billion loss on its Westinghouse Electric nuclear division.

Toshiba stubbornly vows to fight on to finish four Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors under construction in South Carolina and Georgia as the projects continue to fall further behind schedule under skyrocketing costs. The Westinghouse nuclear construction projects are at the heart of the nuclear divisions' collapse.

Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga is expected to resign by February 14, 2017 along with Westinghouse Electric’s chairman Danny Roddrick.

Tuesday
Jan172017

Taiwan approves legislation to terminate nuclear power by 2025

Taiwan's Parliament passed legislation on January 11, 2017 to abandon nuclear power generation and replace it with renewable energy from the sun and wind.  The legislation establishes feed-in tariffs requiring the electric utilities to purchase reliable renewable energy power from private companies. There are currently three nuclear power stations in Taiwan. A controversial fourth nuclear power station for two GE Advanced Boiling Watger Reactors  at Lungmen that have been under construction since 1999 was halted in 2014 and mothballed by nuclear power opponents following the Japan's Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.