Swedish radwaste processing company has announced it is selling most of its US waste treatment operations to EnergySolutions.

It is selling its Erwin and Memphis, Tennessee processing facilities that offer treatment of low- and intermediate-level waste, its holding in the SEMPRASAFE joint venture with EnergySolutions to process ion-exchange resins using the THOR heat-treatment process, patents for THOR in China, a licence to use THOR in the USA (although not the patents themselves, nor a small US consultancy operation), for $23 million.

Studsvik’s year-end report said, "The Board’s assessment is that EnergySolutions is in a better position than Studsvik to develop Erwin and Memphis in close interaction with its already established disposal and waste treatment operations, while through the transaction, Studsvik is eliminating a considerable financial risk." It also said that prior to the deal, signed 11 February, the Studsvik board had investigated the possibility of winding up substantial parts of the operations.

EnergySolutions did not immediately comment on the transaction.

The deal, expected to close 1 March, will provide the company with much-needed cash; the company finished quarter 4 with cash flow from operating activities after investments was SEK -44.7 million (-$6.9m). Net debt has risen by more than a third year-on-year to SEK 155.7 million ($24m). No dividend was proposed for shareholders.

For the whole year, sales were SEK 1 billion ($155m), and operating profit was SEK 16 million ($2.5m), buoyed by busy times in Sweden and the UK. In Sweden, Studsvik volume-reduced, decontaminated and recycled five heat exchangers from the Berkeley facility in the United Kingdom, among other things, and finished the treatment of steam generators from Ringhals nuclear power plant in Sweden.

The company spent SEK 28 million ($4.4m) on changes to its German operations, as a result of the German phase-out decision. According to the annual report, a vigorous restructuring program was implemented during the year, reducing the number of employees in service and maintenance and administration by more than 80. The operations have been successively adapted from the shrinking maintenance market to the growing and more profitable market in engineering services and decommissioning. The action program implemented has had an effect in the form of lower costs.

Photo: Erwin low- and intermediate-level waste processing facility in Tennessee (Source: Studsvik)