U.S. fines GE Hitachi nuclear unit over flawed reactor design

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:29pm EST

WASHINGTON Jan 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday said that General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC has agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it made false claims to U.S. regulators about a nuclear reactor component.

GE Hitachi, headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina, is a subsidiary of the conglomerate General Electric Co and partially owned by Japan's Hitachi Ltd.

The company allegedly made false statements to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy between 2007 and 2012 about the advanced nuclear Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR), known as the steam dryer.

The settlement made no determination of liability on the company's behalf.

The NRC requires that applicants for nuclear reactor design certification show that vibrations caused by the steam dryer will not result in damage to a nuclear plant.

The government alleged that GE Hitachi concealed known flaws in its analysis of the steam dryer, falsely represented that it had properly analyzed the dryer, and had verified the accuracy of its modeling using reliable data.

"Transparency and honesty are absolutely critical when dealing with issues relating to the design of a nuclear reactor," said Stuart Delery, assistant attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division.

The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Dandy v. General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC, General Electric Company, 7:12-cv-009 (E.D.N.C.).

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