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Westinghouse strikes deal to build US nuclear power plants

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 8, 2008
Westinghouse Electric, a unit of the Japanese Toshiba Corp., said Tuesday it had struck a deal with Georgia Power to build two nuclear power plants in the southern United States, the first such projects in 30 years.

The announcement that two Westinghouse AP1000 power plants would be built at a site near Augusta, Georgia which already had two existing nuclear reactors, came days after the 29th anniversary of a major US nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

Westinghouse chief executive Steve Tritch described the deal as evidence that the "nuclear renaissance has moved beyond the planning stage" and said it would "ensure that the United States will have the power it will need to support long-term economic growth."

The Shaw Group said the nuclear division of its Power Group and Westinghouse Electric Company had been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by Georgia Power Company to build the reactors at the existing Vogtle Electric Generating Plant site near Augusta, Georgia.

The two AP1000 units will have an electric generating capacity of 1,100 megawatts and are expected to be built by 2016 and 2017 respectively.

"Nuclear energy is vital for the future of our nation's electricity supply system as the demand for clean, reliable and cost-effective power continues to soar," said J.M. Bernhard, Shaw's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

"We applaud Georgia Power for its leadership role in choosing new nuclear power and the world's most advanced reactor technology as part of its balanced supply portfolio approach to meeting future electricity needs."

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

No nuclear power plants have been built in the United States since 1978, and the accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear facility in 1979 effectively put a halt to the country's civilian nuclear energy program.

A malfunction in the cooling unit of the nuclear power plant caused the reactor's core to overheat, raising concerns of a massive radiation spill. No deaths were caused by the incident, which nevertheless sparked stricter federal controls.

The nuclear scare turned the country's attention toward safer yet more polluting sources of energy, such as natural gas and coal, which are blamed for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.

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Analysis: Nuke waste import plan spurs ire

A commercial application to import low-level nuclear waste from Italy has sparked fears of more shipments from decommissioned nuclear power plants in Europe, but a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives March 13 would ban imports of foreign radioactive waste.

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