Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Toshiba Nuclear Writedown Raises Questions About Nuclear Sector

A Toshiba writedown on its U.S. nuclear business will be several times the nearly $1 billion charge that analysts expected. The loss is large enough that investors now have reason to wonder about the solvency of the company, a sprawling conglomerate mainly known for its computer memory chips. A bigger concern is what the Toshiba loss might say about the health of the U.S. nuclear sector. A few U.S. nuclear power stations announced shutdowns this year because they were unable to operate without fuel subsidies. You have to wonder if nuclear operators are wealthy enough to pay for the decommissioning of power plants, most of which will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 40 years, along with the long-term storage of the spent nuclear fuel. The public might be left to pay much of the cost of winding down the nuclear experiment at the same time it is paying to clean up hundreds of sites contaminated by coal.