Westinghouse Electric Corporation

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Westinghouse Electric Corporation was formed in 1886. Since then they have bouyed up their appliance and electronics sales with diversification into such varied fields as nuclear power, nuclear fuel, electronics for military uses and arms manufacturing.

Westinghouse Electric Company, sold by BNFL to Toshiba in 2006[1], "offers a wide range of nuclear plant products and services to utilities throughout the world, including fuel, service and maintenance, instrumentation and control, and advanced nuclear plant designs".[2] [3]

Top competitors are AREVA, General Electric, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. [1]

Westinghouse was acquired by BNFL in March 1999. It currently employs almost 9,000 people worldwide. Headquartered in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, the company now has operations in twelve US states and fourteen countries, and annual sales of some US$1.8bn. Nearly 50 percent of the nuclear power plants in operation worldwide, and nearly 60 percent in the United States, are based on Westinghouse technology.[3]

It controls Britain's only nuclear fuel manufacturing site, Springfield Fuels. [2]

Background

In the 1990s Westinghouse sold their defense division to Northrop Grumman, makers of so called 'smart bombs and nuclear weapons. Some of their other weapons included F-16 and F-4E fighters, the B-52 and B-1B strategic bombers, the AWACS radar plane, the Mk 48 torpedo, the Trident nuclear submarine, and the MX missile.

Westinghouse is the leading supplier of nuclear reactors for the U.S. nuclear submarine fleet.

Although successful in the whitegoods and appliances fields, some of their other ventures have met with controversial and mixed results. In 1982 Brazil threatened legal action against Westinghouse when the countries first ever nuclear reactors failed due to faulty engineering. The Multinational Monitor reports that, "The whole deal is considered a disaster...There is a widespread feeling that we wasted billions of dollars, that this thing will never work, and that Brazil does not need nuclear power." Westinghouse has encountered similar difficulties with its steam generator systems in Yugoslavia, Spain, and Sweden." [1]

In the Philippines, Westinghouse "engaged in a scheme of bribery and corruption to win a contract to build a nuclear facility in the Philippines in the mid 1970s" (MNM Dec 1991). "The plant, a $2.1 billion drain on the Philippine economy (and racking up huge interest charges daily), has never been put into operation....It is situated just five miles from an active volcano and within 25 miles of three geologic faults. Nuclear specialists charge Westinghouse with shoddy construction, pointing to deficiencies in wiring, in brackets that support pipes carrying steam and water (some of it radioactive) and in underground vaults carrying cables between buildings". In 1992 a court ordered Westinghouse to pay the Philippine government $100 million in cash and services.[2]

Westinghouse has also engaged in extensive lobbying and greenwashing of the nukes industry. They have been implicated in bribery of officials in Korea, the Philippines and the Czech Republic to smooth the way for their power plants in particular.

They were the first, in the 60s, to run extensive advertising campaigns extolling the green credentials of nuclear power: "as "reliable, low-cost...neat, clean, safe" using what former Madison Avenue advertising executive Jerry Mander and others at the time as "ecopornography" (Corpwatch, March 2001). They now promote the industry as the solution to global warming. [4]

In the late 90s, they created controversy again when they wrote education materials for U.S. schools on nuclear power. They also give schools grants through the "N-Visioning a Brighter Future" program and 'Student Video Contest on the Forms of Energy'.

In March 2007, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, former executive of Westinghouse from 1969 to 1997 in the defence division, was forced to resign over conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In March 2007, they approached the Australian government about establishing nuclear power plants in what they call "near-term opportunities" for starting a nuclear power industry in the country. [5]

Political contributions

Westinghouse gave $21,500 to federal candidates in the 2006 election through its political action committee - 19% to Democrats and 81% to Republicans. [4]

Board of Directors

Contact details

4350 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA 15146
Phone: 412-374-4111
Fax: 412-374-3272
Web: http://www.westinghousenuclear.com

Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Westinghouse Profile, Hoovers, accessed January 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 BNFL press release BNFL, Toshiba Agree to Sale of Westinghouse, February 6, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Westinghouse website: Company Overview, undated, accessed February 2006.
  4. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed January 2008.

External resources

External articles