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On August 17, the Asahi Shimbun ran an encouraging story saying that construction firm, Bechtel, had pulled out of the unpopular Wylfa B Hitachi nuclear power plant project on the north coast of Wales (planned project pictured above in an unrealistic diagram that fails to show the devastating destruction of the surrounding countryside that will include hilltop removal).

The article said the US firm had bailed due to the obvious unprofitability of the two-reactor project which is facing growing public and political opposition as well as resistance from nature conservation groups. The paper said Bechtel withdrew due to the fact that " the drastic rise in construction costs would make it hard to make money on the project."

However, the next day, Bechtel was quoted by a UK newspaper, The Daily Post, as saying the withdrawal story was "categorically untrue." Observers in the UK are skeptical of this denial given the reality of the financial mountain the project faces and the reputation of the Asahi Shimbun which, as UK activist Pete Roche observed, "does not usually make mistakes."

In an excellent new piece, now also published on Beyond Nuclear International, Henry Sokolski and Victor Gilinsky, of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, show how Saudi Arabia’s decision to suspend all new business with Canada could inadvertently aid the non-proliferation cause. That’s because Westinghouse, which was to sell 12-14 reactors to the Saudis, is now owned by a Canadian company. US president, Donald Trump, had hoped the nuclear deal, forged with the Saudi Crown Prince, would keep the Westinghouse name — and coffers — alive. Now, because of one tweet by a Canadian minister in favor of women’s human rights, that deal could mercifully be off.

"In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticismof the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle.

On Aug. 7, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and expelled Canada’s ambassador, canceled flights to and from Canada, ordered Saudi students and even Saudis in Canadian hospitals to leave Canada, ordered the immediate sale of Saudi-owned Canadian assets “ no matter the cost,” and — what is most important for our story — suspended all new business with Canada." Read the full article.

However, as Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy officials make clear in their quotes in the article, the company’s lobbyists’ quest continues for state-level bailouts (as from the state legislatures in OH and PA — FirstEnergy also owns/operates Beaver Valley in Shippingport near Pittsburgh), regional bailouts (as from the PJM grid operator), and even federal bailouts.

Re: the latter, NIRS, Public Citizen, and UCS board member Peter Bradford recently reported that the FirstEnergy so-called "emergency request" (bending old laws to the breaking point) to President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry, if approved, could cost the public (ratepayers and taxpayers) a total of $34 billion (yes, with a B) per year, half in old nuke bailouts, and half in old coal bailouts.

Obviously, FirstEnergy’s announced closure dates for its atomic reactors at Perry, Davis-Besse, and Beaver Valley must be viewed with deep skepticism. Multiple announced reactor closure dates in NY and IL were simply reversed, when massive public bailouts were awarded, to keep dangerously old reactors operating. The announced closures were simply used as a lobbying ploy to secure bailouts — the nuclear power plant workers’ jobs, local tax revenues, etc., were threatened, till complicit decision makers went along — at public expense, and increasing safety risk to countless communities downwind and downstream.