Shares in Japanese industrial giant Toshiba slumped for the third successive day yesterday in a tailspin that has wiped nearly 50 per cent off the value of the business. It comes after the company’s chairman warned that its US nuclear business may be worth less than previously thought. Toshiba’s shares fell a further 26 per cent at one stage in Tokyo yesterday, but pulled back some of those losses to close down 17 per cent.
Scotsman 30th Dec 2016 read more »
Westinghouse’s woes help explain why the nuclear industry has seen its dreams of global growth sputter. Until recently, the company was regarded as the industry’s front-runner, the only nuclear supplier to have landed contracts for its next-generation reactor in both the US and China. But a series of missteps and unexpected problems have snarled nuclear projects by Westinghouse and rivals including Areva and General Electric. Fifty-four reactors are under construction in 13 nations, and 33 are badly delayed, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, an independent annual assessment. Blunders have afflicted projects regardless of location, reactor design or construction consortiums. To lower costs and speed construction times, Westinghouse and its competitors came up with cookie-cutter plant designs in which major sections would be built as modules in factories and then hauled to plant sites for final assembly. Gone was the customisation that added expense. But the strategy appears to have backfired. “Supply-chain issues just moved from the plant sites to the factories. It didn’t solve the basic issue of quality control,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear expert based in Paris. And cookie-cutter designs meant flaws got replicated. In France, Areva is trying to get to the bottom of a scandal involving falsified records for critical components that have wound up in nuclear plants there and in other countries, including the US. The problems appear to stretch back decades and to have gone unnoticed despite supposedly strict government supervision. Areva has said it is co-operating with investigators from France and other nations. “There’s a world-wide problem with managing these megaprojects,” said Edwin Lyman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. “Managers grossly underestimated the time and cost of construction.”
The Australian 30th Dec 2016 read more »