Westinghouse Electric Company has signed an agreement to purchase IST Nuclear (ISTN), a leading provider of services and systems for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR).

Nick Liparulo, vice president of engineering services for Westinghouse, said the acquisition will allow the company to become more involved as PBMR technology moves toward commercialisation. In addition, Westinghouse intends to expand ISTN’s scope to include working in servicing existing light water reactors in South Africa and elsewhere.

ISTN, formerly part of IST Holdings, was instrumental in the early development of the PBMR and most recently supplied the helium test facility for the PBMR. The company is also under contract to design key systems for a PBMR demonstration unit to be built at the Koeberg site by 2011.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Westinghouse did announce that all of ISTN’s 118 employees will be retained. Once the acquisition is complete, likely in August, ISTN will operate under the name Westinghouse Electric South Africa.

The sale is contingent on approval from the South Africa Competition Commission.

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