China's Interest in Westinghouse Sparks White House Concern

Meanwhile, NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold an evidentiary hearing May 2 in Homestead, Fla, about wastwater environmental impacts from Florida Power & Light AP1000 reactors at the Turkey Point site 40 miles south of Miami.

A week after the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC (WEC), the nuclear arm of Toshiba Corp., the possibility that a Chinese company could try to purchase WEC has triggered alarm bells in the White House, Bloomberg News reported April 4. At the same time, WEC has received Design Acceptance Confirmation and Statement of Design Acceptability for its AP1000® nuclear power plant design after reviews by two British government agencies, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold an evidentiary hearing May 2 in Homestead, Fla., relating to Florida Power & Light's application to build two AP1000 reactors next to two existing reactors at the Turkey Point site, about 40 miles south of Miami. That hearing will examine arguments about potential environmental impacts from FPL's proposal to send wastewater from the plants' cooling systems into the Boulder Zone of the Lower Floridan aquifer using deep injection wells.

WEC Interim President & CEO José Emeterio Gutiérrez said the Chapter 11 filing will put the company "on a path to resolve our AP1000 financial challenges while protecting our core businesses. We are focused on developing a plan of reorganization to emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger company while continuing to be a global nuclear technology leader."

The Bloomberg News report indicated the Trump administration is considering several ways to potentially block a purchase of WEC by Chinese interests, including a possible direct U.S. government investment in WEC.

WEC reported at the time it filed the bankruptcy action that it had reached agreement with each U.S. owner of AP1000 projects to continue the projects during an initial assessment period. "Westinghouse remains committed to its AP1000 technology as the industry's premier Gen III+ nuclear power plant design, and will continue its existing projects in China as well as pursuit of other potential projects in the future," the company's release stated.

WEC is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor working on the construction of two new nuclear power plants with AP1000 reactors for South Carolina Electric & Gas Company in Jenkinsville, S.C., and two for Georgia Power Company (owned by Southern Company) near Waynesboro, Ga.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m on May 2 at Homestead City Hall and will continue May 3, if necessary. Although members of the public and media are welcome to attend, participation in the hearing will be limited to the FP&L, NRC staff, the intervenors contesting the application, interested local government bodies, and their lawyers and witnesses.