Bechtel is in charge at Prairie Island
A year ago Bechtel announced it had been “selected by Xcel Energy to provide engineering, field engineering, and construction services at the utility’s Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear generating plants in Minnesota.”
Bechtel was the principal force behind a conglomerate that bought the Cochabomba, Bolivia, water supply and then raised the rates by 35%, depriving poor people of water. Demonstrations and protests in January 2000 eventually drove Bechtel out of Bolivia. That mass movement contributed to the 2005 election of left-wing populist Evo Morales as president.
Bechtel had a head start on most other companies in international adventures. In Ronnie Reagan’s administration, Caspar Weinberger, secretary of defense, and George Schultz, secretary of state, were executives from Bechtel. They helped clear a path for Bechtel to plunder the third world—from oil in the Middle East, to copper in Africa, petroleum and chemicals in Asia, to water and mining in South America.
At Prairie Island, according to Bechtel’s announcement, “As part of a five-year contract, Bechtel will manage projects and provide project engineering and construction services. It will also have on-site engineering, construction and project controls staff at each plant. The agreement is significant because it represents a shift in how plant services are provided. Typically, utilities rely on a mix of internal and external contractors to provide the services, as had been the practice of Xcel Energy. This agreement relies on a single provider.
“ ‘The integration of engineering and construction activities is a forward-thinking approach for our industry that will increase plant reliability and improve the end product for customers,’ said Carl Rau, president of Bechtel’s nuclear division.
“ ‘We expect the integration of services into a single provider will result in more predictable and efficient completion of capital projects and delivery of plant services, which ultimately will benefit our customers and stakeholders by providing more cost-effective and reliable electricity,’ said Dennis Koehl, Xcel Energy vice president and chief nuclear officer.”
The announcement concludes: “Bechtel’s history with Xcel Energy dates back to the late 1960s, when Bechtel completed design and construction of the Monticello single-unit boiling water reactor plant. Our involvement continued into the 1990s as we provided nuclear operating plant services at that facility. Bechtel has served the nuclear power market for more than 60 years, worked at more than 150 nuclear plants worldwide, and has provided services to more than 85% of the U.S. nuclear fleet. Today, Bechtel has more than 3,000 employees working on nuclear projects.”
A major breach in security and a mistake in water levels that could have caused a nuclear meltdown and made the water for 40% of the country radioactive is certainly not the kind of “efficiency” and “reliability” the people of Minnesota had been expecting.
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