General Electric

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Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

Not to be confused with the UK company known as GEC/The General Electric Company

Background

General Electric (GE) is the huge American products and services company that is involved in businesses ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, media content and advanced materials. [1]

GE in UK and Ireland

GE has over 19,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, with 60 major sites, of which more than 40 engage in R&D, manufacturing and servicing high technology products in the energy, aviation, defence, healthcare, industrial sensing, oil & gas and transportation sectors. The Global Headquarters of GE Healthcare and EMEA Regional Headquarters of GE Capital, GECAS, and GE Oil & Gas are also in the UK and Ireland. [2]

GE pays no taxes in 2010

In 2011 the fact that GE had paid no taxes at all in 2010 made headlines. They were joined in their tax-free status by ExxonMobil and Bank of America.[3]

In the UK, GE is a member of the HM Treasury Business Forum on Tax and Competitiveness.

Nuclear activities

Pro-nuke lobbying: vital for climate and security of supply in the UK

General Electric has long pushed the case for nuclear in the UK. Back in September 2004, Andrew White, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric's global nuclear unit, said "It's vital for the UK to support nuclear energy. I don't see a good energy policy in the UK to meet Kyoto and secure supplies". [4]

An article in Sunday Business in January 2006 said General Electric had "begun a lobbying campaign for its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design to be used in the UK's next generation of nuclear reactors. GE Nuclear chief executive Andy White told The Business he had discussed using GE's technology with UK nuclear company British Energy, Eon UK and EdF Energy, the two UK companies seen as the leaders of any potential new build. He also said he had met Prime Minister Tony Blair and briefed officials at the Department of Trade and Industry. [5]

GE designed the Fukushima reactors

General Electric designed reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan that were involved in the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe. Even after one reactor exploded, GE defended the reactors it supplied to Japan 40 years ago, saying the containment system was safe and reliable.[6] [7]

Non-liability

GE, Toshiba and Hitachi were responsible for designing, building and servicing the reactors which directly contributed to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant[8]when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck on 14 March 2011.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has accused all three firms of continuing to dodge their responsibilities over Fukushima.

...companies deeply involved in the design, construction and running of the reactors involved in the triple meltdown are not being held accountable. Shockingly in some cases, they are making more profits out of the disaster recovery. These companies, namely GE, Hitachi, and Toshiba who designed and built reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, have special rights under the Nuclear Damage Liability Law that protect them from product liability should there be a nuclear disaster. Essentially this means they can profit without worrying about the risks of a meltdown, since the public pays the damage should an accident happen.
The estimated cost of the nuclear disaster is $250 billion US, an impossible figure for any single company - even TEPCO, one of the largest power companies in the world. It is why compensation and life support for the people affected is not what it should be, and why 3.2 trillion yen ($43.7 bn) of Japanese taxpayers money has been injected into the company.
We have been talking with GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, however, when it comes to a question of their responsibility, they simply point to their existing Corporate Social Responsibility webpage or report, where they present their charitable activities in response to the earthquake and tsunami. They have avoided explaining their responsibility in the Fukushima nuclear disaster as a supplier of critical equipment. [9] [10]

Greenpeace International's executive director in March 2013 called for the 'creation of a real nuclear liability system, one that makes both nuclear operators and their suppliers pay all the costs of their failures, not taxpayers', such as in India:

Big energy giants, such as General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi, pay nothing if one of their reactors causes a disaster. All three built reactors based on GE's flawed Mark I reactor design. Concerns that the reactor containment would fail during a major accident proved correct – this is exactly what happened. The flaw was revealed decades earlier, but the problem wasn't fixed.
But the protection system means that GE, Hitachi and Toshiba and other big companies with enormous wealth are not held liable when their equipment contributes to a disaster. ...Absurdly, the powerful nuclear industry has greater protection and rights than the public – the ones at risk of radiation in a disaster. It's high time for that liability to be given back to the industry.[11] [12]

Executives

PR, lobbying and business intelligence firms

2013-15

2011-13

UK public affairs consultancy services were provided by:

2007-08

In 2008, General Electric is listed as a client for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd[18] and The Gorlin Group[19]

General Electric subsidiary Genworth Financial is reported to have hired lobbying firm Wheat Government Relations in 2007[20]

Resources

See also

FirstAid.png This article is part of the Health Portal project of Spinwatch.
Powerbase profiles on General Electric Medical Systems and GE Healthcare.
Abstract:
This article discusses the nature and power of corporations and some ways in which their activities adversely impact public health. It reviews those activities of GE Healthcare and its parent company, General Electric (GE, ranked by Forbes Magazine in 2008 as the world's largest company), which have been antithetical to public health. These activities include unethical human subject experiments; environmental pollution; workers' rights and workplace health and safety violations; fraud; false and misleading advertising; sponsorship of corporate front groups; lobbying; a personal attack on a radiologist for exposing the risks of nephrogenic systemic sclerosis from its contrast agent Omniscan; and an ethically troubling technology transfer agreement with New York Presbyterian Hospital. Despite such activities, General Electric has been highly praised in the business community, including being named "America's Most Admired Company" in a Forbes Magazine poll and one of the "World's Most Respected Companies" in polls conducted by Barron's and Financial Times. The article concludes with suggestions for individuals, governments, and academic institutions on how to fight the corporate corruption of public health.

References

  1. General Electric's Website
  2. General Electric Leadership, website undated, acc 29 October 2013
  3. Chris Hedges, This is what resistance looks like, Commondreams.org, 4 Apr 2011, acc 4 Apr 2011
  4. Bloomberg, U.K. Needs Nuclear Power to Meet Demand, GE Says, 29 September, 2004.
  5. Richard Orange, "GE Seeking UK Nuclear Role", Sunday Business, 22 January, 2006; Not accessible online.
  6. General Electric Defends Nuclear Reactor Design Amid Japan Crisis, Wall St Journal, 15 Mar 2011, acc 2 April 2011
  7. See also: Fox News, Former GE Scientist says Fukushima Nuclear Reactors have Suffered Partial Meltdowns, 16 Mar 2011
  8. Nuclear Reactor Maps: Fukushima-Daiichi, Nuclear Transparency in the Asia Pacific
  9. Hisayo Takada, General Electric, Toshiba & Hitachi hide from their responsibilities in Fukushima, Greenpeace blogpost, 5 March 2013, acc October 2013
  10. Fukushima disaster: Nuclear industry profits, while people pay!, Greenpeace Action, 17 January 2013
  11. Kumi Naidoo, Fukushima disaster: holding the nuclear industry liable, theguardian.com, 11 March 2013
  12. Antony Froggatt, Nuclear reactor operators must be financially liable for disasters, theguardian.com, 12 March 2013 02.18 EST, acc 11 October 2013
  13. Association of Professional Political Consultants. APPC Register Entry, 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012
  14. UK Public Affairs Council Register: Period 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012, Period 1 December 2012 - 28 February 2013
  15. Association of Professional Political Consultants. APPC Register Entry, 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012
  16. Association of Professional Political Consultants. APPC Register Entry, 1 Dec 2011 - 29 Feb 2012
  17. UK Public Affairs Council Register: Period 1 March 2012 to 31 May 2012, Period 1 December 2012 - 28 February 2013
  18. AMV BBDO Clients Accessed 12th February 2008
  19. The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008
  20. The Centre for Responsive Ethics Wheat Government Relations 2007 Accessed 11th March 2008