U.S. sues to stop EnergySolutions from buying smaller rival

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Wednesday aimed at stopping EnergySolutions from buying rival Waste Control Specialists, the agency said in a statement.

Both companies dispose of low level radioactive waste, or LLRW, and are each other’s most significant competitor in 36 states and Washington, DC, the department said. The waste is generated by hospitals, nuclear power generators and others.

“Since opening its LLRW disposal facility in 2012, Waste Control Specialists has provided EnergySolutions the only real competition it has ever faced,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the department’s Antitrust Division in a statement.

She said that the competition allowed customers to negotiate better prices.

The department valued the deal at $367 million.

EnergySolutions and WCS's holding company Valhi Inc VHI.N said on Wednesday they would contest the DoJ's lawsuit.

The companies said the DoJ has failed to recognize that price competition exists in the LLRW disposal market and that the merger is in the best interest of the nuclear industry.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Gaurika Juneja in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sunil Nair