The construction site for Plant Vogtle’s nuclear expansion is getting a new look, now that its primary contractor – The Shaw Group – officially has a new owner.
The Louisiana-based group, which is also building Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors at SCANA’s V.C. Summer Plant in South Carolina, announced last year it was being sold to Chicago Bridge & Iron in a deal valued at $3.1 billion, but subject to regulatory approvals and other steps.
On Wednesday, Netherlands-based CB&I announced it had completed the acquisition, which will require, among other things, the changing out of Shaw Group signs and materials at Vogtle.
Philip K. Asherman, CB&I’s president and CEO, said in a news release that the acquisition of Shaw and its 27,000 employees creates a combined global workforce of 50,000.
“With the close of the transaction, CB&I is the most complete energy infrastructure focused company in the world,” he said.
The sign changes at Plant Vogtle have begun as part of the transition to the new company, Shaw spokeswoman Gentry Brann said, adding that similar changes are occurring at all other Shaw projects.
Other than sign changes, the acquisition is not expected to affect the $14 billion Vogtle expansion, which involves adding two new reactors, according to officials with Southern Nuclear.
The Shaw Group also has a role in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s mixed oxide, or MOX, project at Savannah River Site, where plutonium from dismantled warheads will be blended into commercial reactor fuel.
The MOX contactor, Shaw-AREVA MOX Services, is 70 percent controlled by Shaw Project Services Group, a U.S. based company, with the other 30 percent controlled by AREVA North America.
That U.S. company will now become a CB&I proxy company with an independent board of directors that includes former national security officials.
Shaw Group’s sale could also trigger additional future effects on the nuclear construction industry – and Savannah River Site – because Shaw’s outgoing chief executive officer, Jim Bernhard, is being pushed as one of many possible replacements for U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who is resigning after four years.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, issued a news release Feb. 4 proposing Bernhard’s appointment.
“I have no doubt Jim Bernhard is the right selection, and I urge the president to name him as (Secretary) Steven Chu’s successor as soon as possible,” Alexander said. President Obama has not yet proposed a successor, however, and media reports have mentioned numerous prospects including Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Ernest Moniz.
Other possible candidates, named this week in a report by The National Journal, include Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman, billionaire investor Tom Steyer, former Sen. Byron Dorgan and former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.