Construction at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta in east Georgia. The project to add two reactors is the first U.S. nuclear expansion in 30 years. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Report: Vogtle contractor headed for Chapter 11

A major contractor on Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion is expected to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of this month, adding new complications to the already delayed project, according to a report Friday.

Reuters reported that Japanese conglomerate Toshiba has told lenders that its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse is planning for a March 31 filing. It cited unnamed people briefed on the matter.

Toshiba did not confirm the report.

“Whether or not Westinghouse files for Chapter 11 is ultimately a decision for its board, and must take into account the various interests of all of its stakeholders, including Toshiba and its creditors,” it said in a statement to Reuters.

Reuters also reported that Georgia Power’s parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has hired advisers to help it deal with a potential Westinghouse bankruptcy reorganization.

A Chapter 11 filing typically means the company involved will remain in operation while renegotiating its debts. So the ultimate effect of such a move by Westinghouse is unclear.

“We cannot speculate on what may happen with Westinghouse, Toshiba and their overall business, but we will continue to hold them accountable for their responsibilities under our agreement,” a Georgia Power spokesman said Friday.

“Work continues to progress at the Vogtle expansion site. We are monitoring the situation with Westinghouse and prepared for any potential outcome.”

Speculation about a possible bankruptcy or sale of Westinghouse has swirled since Toshiba this winter reported billions in losses on Westinghouse’s nuclear projects at Plant Vogtle and another plant in South Carolina.

Westinghouse is a primary construction manager at Vogtle, where two additional reactors are being built. Toshiba has owned Westinghouse since 2006.

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