US Supreme Court Rejects Fukushima Case

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The US Supreme Court has refused to review a May 2020 lower court opinion that legal claims brought by some 200 US sailors and their families against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) and GE for negligence and products liability at Fukushima Daiichi must be adjudicated by courts in Japan rather than California (NIW May29'20). The sailors in question allege that they sustained radiation injuries on board the USS Ronald Reagan, which was sent to Japan as part of a humanitarian relief effort a day after the Fukushima disaster began on Mar. 11, 2011. In May 2020 the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with a lower court judgment that the plaintiffs should seek redress in the Japanese courts, given Japan's interest "in consistent application" of that country's Compensation Act, which channels all third-party liability in a nuclear accident to the plant operator. The Supreme Court's Mar. 29 decision leaves these decisions in place, but doesn't immediately address two parallel lawsuits against Tepco and GE that were stayed by agreement of the parties pending a decision on the Supreme Court case (NIW May1'20). China Huaneng Group poured the "first concrete" last week for Unit 3 of the Changjiang nuclear plant in Hainan province, marking the first time the national power utility is leading development of a light-water reactor (NIW Oct.2'20). While Huaneng is already spearheading development of China's first high-temperature gas-cooled reactor at Rongcheng (Shidao Bay) in Shandong, it wasn't until June 2019 that it concluded a deal with China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) to take charge of Changjiang's Phase II development. In September 2020 China's nuclear regulator signed off on the Hualong-Ones planned for Changjiang-3 and -4 (NIW Sep.4'20; NIW Jun.21'19). In a statement marking the Mar. 31 first concrete milestone, Huaneng said that the twin units will cost nearly 40 billion yuan ($6 billion), and the plant "is planned to be put into operation by the end of 2026." While CNNC retains a 49% stake in Changjiang-3 and -4 and will play a key role as the Hualong-One technology developer, Huaneng will be responsible for "the investment, construction and operation" of the two reactors. Japan's JGC Corp. is the latest infrastructure firm to invest in NuScale, the small modular reactor (SMR) developer majority owned by US construction firm Fluor Corp. The Japanese firm, last seen in the international nuclear sphere as a consortium member for Hitachi's now-canceled Wylfa Newydd newbuild in the UK, will spend some $40 million on a "small" equity stake in NuScale, according to the company (NIW Jul.8'16). In addition, JGC "will become a global strategic engineering, procurement and construction partner for new SMR projects," Fluor announced Apr. 5. JGC joins a growing list of firms investing small amounts of money in NuScale, which is developing a demonstration plant of its 77 megawatt SMR for the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (Uamps) in Idaho (NIW Feb.12'21). The other investors include Sargent & Lundy, Sarens USA, Ares Corp., Enercon Services, South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries, Ultra Electronics and Oregon State University (NIW Feb.21'20). Of those, only Doosan has a confirmed supplier role in the Uamps project; Sarens USA is a preferred supplier.

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