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Westinghouse Sued By Five Nuclear Reactor Owners

May 2, 1991

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Westinghouse Electric Corp. designed and built steam generators that aren’t working properly at a Beaver County nuclear power plant, the reactors’ owners alleged in a lawsuit Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed in Pittsburgh’s federal court by two Pennsylvania and three Ohio electric utilities that own the Beaver Valley Power Station about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

The utilities alleged Westinghouse knew about the problems as early as 1964, but didn’t tell Beaver Valley’s owners.

The lead plaintiff was Duquesne Light Co. of Pittsburgh. Others were Cleveland Electric Co., Toledo Edison Co., Ohio Edison Co. and Pennsylvania Power Co.

A Duquesne Light spokesman, Ed Sehon, said problems mentioned in the lawsuit weren’t a threat to public safety because the tubes were inspected regularly and replaced if necessary. ″Westinghouse’s fraudulent non- disclosures and misrepresentations were made to deceive Duquesne,″ the lawsuit alleged. ″(The company) deliberately withheld the information for its own economic benefit.″

Mimi Limbach, a spokeswoman for Westinghouse, said the lawsuit was ″without merit and baseless in its factual allegations.″

Beaver Valley’s two nuclear reactors operate at efficiency levels higher than the national average, she said.

Duquesne Light alleged 316 nickel alloy tubes inside six steam generators at Beaver Valley were subject to corrosion and cracking. The 326-ton, 67-foot generators convert nuclear energy to steam.

The lawsuit said Duquesne Light plugged 294 tubes at the older Beaver Valley I reactor to take them out of service. Twenty-two others were plugged at Beaver Valley II.

There are about 20,000 such tubes at Beaver Valley. Radioactive water flows inside the tubes; uncontaminated water flows outside. The process produces steam that drives turbines and produces electricity.

As more tubes fail and need plugging, the generators will become increasingly inefficient and need replacement, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges Westinghouse was aware of corrosion problems and quotes a handwritten Westinghouse memo from June 11, 1968.

″What do we tell them at this stage. That the alloy is crumbling in front of our eyes or that service experience is so far good?″ said the memo quoted in the lawsuit.

Duquesne Light signed contracts with Westinghouse for Beaver Valley I in 1967 and Beaver Valley II in 1972, with both to have a 40-year lifespan.

But Ms. Limbach of Westinghouse said there was no guarantee on the reactors.

″The idea of a 40-year warranty is just outrageous,″ she said. ″Neither Westinghouse nor any other company warrants equipment for 40 years.″

Duquesne Light claims breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation by Westinghouse. The lawsuit doesn’t say how much money Duquesne Light and other owners lost because of the alleged problems.

Westinghouse supplied generators for about one-third of the 112 nuclear plants licensed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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