Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AREVA-Northrop Grumman Building Plant to Manufacture Components For Nuclear Power Plants

French multinational company AREVA has joined with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to invest more than US$360 million and create 540 jobs at a new engineering and manufacturing operation in Newport News, Virginia that will manufacture heavy components for the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), AREVA's Generation III+ nuclear reactor.

"Project Larkspur" will be located on Northrop Grumman property, affording the joint venture, named AREVA Newport News, prime access to the James River for transporting the reactor vessels, steam generators and pressurizers the 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,870-sq.-m.) plant will produce.

AREVA already has this manufacturing capacity in Marcel-St. Chalon, France, which employs more than 1,000, and wanted a partner to create this capability in the USA. One of the key decision drivers was logistics – very large forgings weighing several hundred thousand pounds, then ship components weighing in excess of 500 tons and water access. The facility will be located adjacent to Northrop Grumman's shipyard, where there are 10,000 craft personnel. The indoor crane capability must exceed 1,000 tons. There will be a 48-inch thick concrete floor, thick enough to support setting down a reactor and filling it with water for hydrostatic tests.

AREVA signed a long-term agreement with Japan Steel Works in 2008 that extends through 2016 and is working on smaller forgings with Lehigh Heavy Forge in Pennsylvania. Among the first power plants in line for the components from Newport News may be a proposed reactor for UniStar Nuclear Energy at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Maryland. An AREVA-Bechtel consortium was awarded a contract from UniStar in 2008 that calls for detailed design engineering for the EPR plant. AREVA is constructing four EPRs elsewhere in the world – two in China, one in Finland and one in France – and has plans to work with U.S. utilities AmerenUE and PPL to construct other EPRs in Maryland, New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

To get ready, AREVA, which employs 5,300 people at some 45 locations in the U.S., continues to hire talent at its engineering operations in Charlotte, N.C., and Lynchburg, Va., bringing on 200 engineers in 2007 alone.

Other nuclear power industry-related corporate facility projects over the past 18 months include Alstom's $280-million, 360-job turbine and generator manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.; GE-Hitachi's combined $954 million of manufacturing, R&D and headquarters projects in Castle Hayne and Wilmington, N.C., creating 1,150 jobs; Westinghouse's three-phase, $400-million headquarters expansion in Cranberry Township, Pa.; and, just announced in August 2008, a $100-million, 1,400-job nuclear reactor module fab and assembly facility in Lake Charles, La., from Westinghouse and Shaw Group. (Site Selection Magazine, Jan 2009, photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

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