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Mon, Dec 11, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Hitachi, GE to construct nuclear assembly facility

AFP , TOKYO

Japan's Hitachi Ltd plans to build a facility in North America to assemble equipment for nuclear power plants in the US, a Japanese business daily said yesterday.

The project is in line with Hitachi's nuclear power tie-up with US conglomerate General Electric (GE) as part of a broader industry realignment fueled by renewed interest in atomic energy particularly in the US, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

Competitiveness

Under the plan, the Japanese company will build the facility as early as 2009 to strengthen its cost competitiveness and make its logistics and construction operations more efficient, the business daily said.

The facility will assemble parts made in Japan into large modules that are then sent to construction sites by ship, it said.

The report did not specify if the facility would be built in the US.

Hitachi has been involved in building and maintaining boiling water reactors in Japan and abroad since receiving technical assistance from GE in 1967.

In their latest deal, Hitachi and GE reached a general agreement last month to hive off their nuclear power operations into two joint ventures that will build, maintain and develop nuclear plants and boiling water reactors.

Nuclear energy

The two firms aim to grab one-third of the orders for nuclear generating plants, and are already close to concluding a contract for one in Texas.

The US turned away from nuclear power after a 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania. No new reactor has been put into service in the US since 1996.

However, President George W. Bush's administration wants to relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in the US because of the elevated cost of crude oil, whose price has been pushed up in recent years by geopolitical tension and supply concerns.

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