CRANBERRY (KDKA) – The sheer size of its new corporate headquarters in Cranberry will tell you Westinghouse is a major force in the region’s economy, but will the accidents in Fukushima, Japan, put the brakes on what’s been called the nuclear renaissance?
“No, I don’t think so,” said CEO Aris Candris, who believes Westinghouse will continue to grow and thrive.
Andy Sheehan: “You have four nuclear power plants under construction in China. You have six under contract in the United States. Are any of those contracts or projects in jeopardy right now?”
Candris: “No, they’re not in jeopardy and all those customers have told us they intend to continue with the projects going forward. But, clearly there will be some reevaluation and a period where we’re basically going to have to take a pause and make sure that all the lessons learned as I said before from this experience are incorporated before going forward.”
Fukushima’s reactors became compromised when the pumps used to cool their cores failed.
Going forward, Westinghouse’s new AP 1000 design has three-days of coolant mounted on the roof of the reactor which is released in the event of an emergency and cools the reactor by gravity and natural circulation.
Candris says it would have functioned in both this earthquake and tsunami.
“It does not require valves and pumps to actively come on line and yes in this particular scenario it would have been business as usual for the AP 1000,” he explained.
But even still, Candris concedes that danger is inherent in the production of every kind of power and nuclear is no exception.
“There’s no such thing as free lunch. No matter how we produce energy and especially electricity around the world, you do have some down sides and this technology has some too,” he said. “We have done a lot of the years to try and mitigate those downsides and as a result of that we’ve been producing power for the past 30 years in the U.S. safely and cheaply and we intend to continue doing that.”
And while it’s clear that the nuclear power industry will have a massive public relations battle on its hands, Candris believes that Westinghouse is up to the challenge.