What Westinghouse's bankruptcy filing means for Charlotte and S.C. reactors


Toshiba shares have crashed more than 50% since 2014 as losses mounted at its Westinghouse unit due primarily to massive cost overuns at two nuclear projects in the U.S. The Japanese company warned that it will likely book charges of ¥712.5 billion from the failed business, which filed for bankruptcy in NY on Wednesday.

"While we are working with Westinghouse to maintain momentum at the Vogtle site, we are also now conducting a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete assessment to determine what impact Westinghouse's bankruptcy will have on the project", Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said in an email.

When contacted, the US Embassy spokesperson in New Delhi said, "We have been closely following developments at Westinghouse and Toshiba".

Wednesday, Toshiba said it could post a loss as big as $9 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31.

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The bankruptcy could involve the USA and Japanese governments, given the scale of the collapse and the $8.3 billion in US government loan guarantees that were provided to help finance the reactors.

"As announced on March 29, Westinghouse LLC and certain subsidiaries and affiliates filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code".

Toshiba's shares being placed on a "securities on alert" watchlist by the Tokyo bourse in September 2015, following an accounting scandal, which had initially dented the company's reputation, prior to the huge impairment costs, did little to help the firm's unfolding difficulties.

"The environment of nuclear power is so severe at this moment, it was not a sustainable business", said Kazunori Ito, an equity analyst at Morning Star. Westinghouse's operations in its Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Regions are not impacted by the Chapter 11 filings.

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Westinghouse, which was bought by Toshiba in 2006, has suffered billions of dollars in losses due to delays and cost overruns at nuclear plants under construction in Georgia and SC. Then, in 2009, when regulators in both Georgia and SC approved the construction of new AP1000 reactors, it looked like Toshiba's investment would pay off.

Westinghouse, which employs about 12,000 people, has had delay problems with construction of so-called AP1000 reactors in Georgia and SC. The Japanese company has put its memory chip business up for sale to fill the hole Westinghouse created in its balance sheet.

"If several different things happen in a bad way, there's a potential national security issue here", the official said.

Westinghouse, based north of Pittsburgh in Cranberry Township, said it hopes to use bankruptcy to isolate and reorganize around its nuclear fuel and power plant servicing businesses from its money-losing construction operation.

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GMB, a union for nuclear workers called on the United Kingdom government to provide reassurance that the plant would continue despite these problems.