The Conservative Welsh Secretary Simon Hart MP has recently visited the Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia, USA, but the Nuclear Free Local Authorities believe that Bechtel and Westinghouse will be big on talk but short on delivery if they are selected as Britain’s commercial partners to build a new power plant at Wylfa.
If there are two certainties with any nuclear power project, they are that it will be delivered way beyond budget and that it will be delivered very late. At present, the sole new nuclear project under construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is costing £23 billion and is ten years behind schedule; and operator, French-state owned EDF Energy, has announced that it will again be revising the final budget upwards and the end-date backwards, over the summer.
The Vogtle project, being built by engineering firm Bechtel with two AP-1000 Westinghouse light-water reactors, has so far cost US $30 billion, ironically around the same price tag as Hinkley Point C, with this monstrous boondoggle being bankrolled from the deep pockets of its eventual operator Georgia Power and backed by US $12 billion in loans from the US Department of Energy.
The other AP-1000 project at VC Summer in South Carolina was abruptly terminated in July 2017 after limping along for nine years and at a cost of US $9 billion. This decision contributed to Westinghouse declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy and subsequently several former Westinghouse officials, including a Senior Vice-President, have been charged with a range of serious offences relating to the company’s fraudulent actions.
A report released in September 2017, after the foreclosure of the project, by the Office of the State Governor of South Carolina Henry McMaster, cited a litany of flawed construction plans, faulty designs, the inadequate management of contractors, low worker morale, high staff turnover, and disputes amongst the construction partners.
Based on their track-record in the United States, the NFLA remains far from convinced that either company represents a safe pair of hands for a British Government intent on nuclear folly.
Commenting Councillor Ernie Galsworthy, Chair of the Welsh NFLA, said:
“Led by Bechtel, Vogtle rumbles on at vast cost with no certain end date. The US Attorney’s Office in an indictment last August said of Westinghouse’s competence that ‘the VC Summer project was characterized by cost overruns and significant delays’. State legislators described it as a ‘fiasco’ and bemoaned local taxpayers being hit by a $2 billion bill as their contribution to ‘a hole in the ground that would never produce any power’.
“These are hardly ringing endorsements. The Welsh Secretary has recently said that the UK Government is ‘deadly serious’ about new nuclear, but the NFLA would ask Ministers if they can be ‘deadly serious’ about wanting companies with such poor track records as commercial partners in any nuclear project on our shores, whether at Wylfa or indeed anywhere else.”
For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on email@example.com or mobile 07583097793