2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 2 May 2003 18:42:39 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Bechtel's Nuclear Nightmares
Bechtel's Nuclear Nightmares
Special Series
By Pratap Chatterjee
Special to CorpWatch
May 1, 2003

Last month, the San Francisco-based Bechtel Corporation won a $68
million contract to rebuild Iraq following the devasation wrought by the
US invasion. Bechtel is notorious for having friends in high places,
perhaps explaning how they got the contract in the first place. The
privately owned corporation has operated with impunity, whether
siphoning off millions of taxpayer dollars from government contracts or
poisoning the communities surrounding their ventures. In the second part
of our series we look at the enviromental and human right impacts of
just a few of Bechtel's operations.

San Onofre, California, has a 950-ton radioactive problem: a nuclear
reactor built by Bechtel that nobody wants. The unit was shut down over
a decade ago in 1992 by its owners, Southern California Edison, who
preferred not to spend $125 million in required safety upgrades.

The only place that will accept the reactor is a dump in South Carolina
but railway officials refused to transport the cargo across the country.
The next suggestion was to ship it via the Panama Canal but the canal
operators said no. So did the government of Chile when the power plant
owners asked for permission to take it around the Cape of Good Hope.

The only option left is to ship it all the way around the world,
although even that is looking unlikely as harbor officials in
Charleston, South Carolina, are already suggesting that they may deny
the reactor entry. Edison officials are currently desperately looking
for a port that might accept the toxic cargo before the dump shuts its
doors in 2008.

Part of a Pattern
This is, by no means, the only nuclear headache created by Bechtel. The
company estimates that it has built 40% of the United States nuclear
capacity and 50% of nuclear power plants in the developing world. That
accounts for 1,200 reactor years at 150 nuclear power plants. Indeed,
Bechtel is still building nuclear reactors including the 1,450 megawatt
nuclear reactor in Qinshan, China.

In fact, the world's first nuclear reactor to generate electrical power
was completed just over 50 years ago by a team of Bechtel engineers in
the sagebrush desert of southeastern Idaho under contract to the federal
government. The 100-kilowatt EBR-1 was completed on December 21, 1951,
ushering in the dawn of commercial nuclear power. Bechtel was quick to
capitalize on its newfound nuclear expertise.

"Nobody doubted that nuclear energy could work. The real question was,
could anyone make a profit in it?" recall the authors of Bechtel:
Building a Century , the coffee table book that the company produced to
mark the company's 100th anniversary in 1998.

The question is deeply ironic for ratepayers in California who are still
paying for the financial bills and the environmental costs of the San
Onofre nuclear power plant, which has two reactors that are still
generating power.

This article can be viewed at:

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Navy Departs from Vieques
Next by Date: [CPEO-MEF] Shipyard progress
  Prev by Thread: [CPEO-MEF] Navy Departs from Vieques
Next by Thread: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Bechtel's Nuclear Nightmares

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index