Company dismantling Zion nuclear plant under financial stress
The Exelon Nuclear Zion Station plant, which shut down in 1998, in Zion. (Heather Charles / July 1, 2012)
By Julie Wernau
Tribune staff reporter
1:37 a.m. CDT, July 1, 2012
EnergySolutions, the company dismantling Exelon's Zion nuclear plant, is struggling financially just as it nears the riskiest phase of the project -- moving the nuclear fuel into storage casks.
Last month, the company suddenly replaced its chief executive and chief financial officer for the second time in two years, causing its stock to plunge 55 percent and its credit ratings to fall two notches amid a weak earnings forecast. In March, EnergySolutions revealed that it underestimated by about $100 million the cost to dismantle Zion piece by piece, and ship the material to Utah for disposal.
The financial problems call the future of the company and the project into question. Though David Lockwood, the new president and chief executive of EnergySolutions said the company intentionally underbid the work to gain publicity that would help it snag similar work around the world.
"We undertook Zion for strategic, not financial reasons," Lockwood said.
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