The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child

The Star Phoenix has boostered the nuclear industry in SK, no doubt. In fact, in 2007 it cited AREVA as one of Saskatchewan’s top 100 companies.  Funny, that, because that top company just layed off a shwack of employees. (This is SK, remember, with a population of just over a million. Definitions of shwack vary across the country!)

For those who want to know more about how AREVA’s going down the tubes, here’s an excellent essay by Harvey Wasserman:

Areva’s Money Meltdown: The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child

The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos. With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a “nuclear renaissance” of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste. Areva, France’s nationally-owned corporate atomic façade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash. Electricite de France, the French national utility, has been raided by European Union officials charging that its price-fixing may be undermining competition throughout the continent. Delays and cost overruns continue to escalate at Areva’s catastrophic Olkiluoto reactor construction project in Finland. Areva has admitted to a $2.2 billion, or 55%, cost increase in the Finnish building site after three and a half years. The Flamanville project—the only one now being built in France—is already over $1 billion more expensive than projected after a single year under construction.

Widely portrayed as the model of corporate success, reactor-builder Areva is desperately short of money. As it begs a bailout from its
dominant owner, the French government, Areva’s mismanagement and overextension in promoting and building new reactors has
wrecked its image in worldwide capital markets. According to Mycle Schneider, Paris-based author of “Nuclear Power in France—
Beyond the Myth,” Areva shares have plunged by over 60% since June 2008, twice as much as the CAC40, the standard indicator of
the 40 largest French companies on the stock market.

EdF and Areva are at the core of what has been labeled as the global “nuclear renaissance.” Their escalating money problems underscore
an epic failure that has been a significant factor in the current global economic crisis. After a half- century of massive government
subsidies in the US, UK, France and elsewhere, atomic energy still staggers under an unsustainable load of high construction costs and
uncompetitive prices for the electricity it generates.
EdF’s recent $17.5 billion takeover of nuke utility British Energy came with a warning from EdF officials that England’s commitment to
wind turbines could undermine the future of nuclear power. The statement evoked widespread astonishment and scorn from the
environmental community.

Areva, Mitsubishi Heavy expand tie to nuclear fuel

If there’s a way to feed greed, the corporate sector will find it!  Or die trying…  From The Guardian:

Areva, Mitsubishi Heavy expand tie to nuclear fuel

  • Reuters, Monday December 22 2008
  • TOKYO, Dec 22 (Reuters) – French nuclear reactor builder Areva will work together with Japanese machinery conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and others to produce nuclear fuel in Japan, the companies said on Monday.
    The news, first reported by the Nikkei business daily on Sunday, pushed Mitsubishi Heavy shares up 3.2 percent on Monday, outpacing the benchmark Nikkei average’s 1.6 percent rise.
    Areva said it would transfer its nuclear fuel business in Japan to Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co — a joint venture between Mitsubishi Heavy and Mitsubishi Materials Corp — early next year, in return for a 30 percent stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.
    The deal will deepen the partnership between Mitsubishi Heavy and Areva, which are already cooperating in the development of a new midsize nuclear reactor.
    The newly created Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Corp will be owned 35 percent by Mitsubishi Heavy, 30 percent by Mitsubishi Materials, 30 percent by Areva and 5 percent by trading company Mitsubishi Corp.
    It will supply uranium fuel for pressurised water reactors (PWRs), boiling water reactors (BWRs) and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, among others, in Japan. It also plans to sell fuel designed by Mitsubishi Heavy in overseas markets, they said.
    “The deal’s impact on Mitsubishi Heavy’s profit will be limited,” Shigeki Okazaki, analyst at Nomura Securities, said in a research note. “But it is positive in that Mitsubishi can obtain the know-how for BWR fuel, an area the company is weak in, at a relatively low cost.”
    Separately, Mitsubishi Heavy and Areva said they had agreed to jointly invest in a nuclear fuel plant to be built in the United States.
    The growing alliance comes as the world’s nuclear reactor makers consolidate into three groups amid a boom in nuclear plant construction in the United States and China.
    Japanese electric conglomerate Toshiba Corp has bought U.S. nuclear power firm Westinghouse, while General Electric has teamed up with Hitachi Ltd. (Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Chris Gallagher)