Kurion, Irvine-based nuclear cleanup company, sold for $350 million

Kurion Inc., the Irvine firm known for helping stabilize the contaminated Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan after a 2011 tsunami, has been sold for $350 million to Veolia, a Paris-based nuclear cleanup specialist.

Kurion, founded in 2008 by John Raymont, offers nuclear waste cleanup and treats low-level radioactive waste. It has operations in the U.S., the UK and Japan.

“This acquisition represents tremendous growth for both Veolia and Kurion, as both companies will leverage parallel interests to scale the business and create technologies based on customer needs,” said William Gallo, Kurion’s chief executive. “Veolia and Kurion (will) combine expertise and knowledge of hazardous waste restoration, finding ways to improve operations and maximize potential for the hazardous and nuclear waste industry.”

He added that the companies combined technologies would “give Kurion customers access to the broadest range of environmental solutions and best-in-class technology for energy, waste and water cleanup.”

The fledgling firm had only six full-time employees when the quake struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Formed to provide products for processing nuclear waste at normally operating power plants and World War II-era production sites, Kurion had never handled a serious reactor malfunction, much less a disaster that was being compared to Chernobyl.

The tiny Kurion team would end up playing a pivotal part in quelling the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Some of the company’s employees labored 18-hour days in radiation suits and respirators, sleeping inside a steel-plated building at the site of the damaged reactor.

The company in eight weeks would create and install a high-capacity waste-processing unit.

Kurion’s success in Japan helped build the company’s profile. The firm’s technologies have since been used to clean up nuclear waste at the Hanford Site in Washington state and the Sellafield facility in the U.K.

In early 2014, it bought Vista Engineering Technologies, an engineering, design and technology firm based in Richland, Wash. The Kurion team swelled to 100 people.

Today, the company has 200 employees. No changes are expected for the staff and organizational structure of either company, representatives said Wednesday. Kurion will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Veolia.

“By having all the expertise and solutions that are indispensable for the treatment of this type of waste, our company is confirming that it is what it has always been: a pioneer in the treatment and recovery of waste and resources,” said Antoine Frérot, Chairman and CEO of Veolia, in a statement.

The acquisition is subject to approval by U.S. regulatory authorities.

Contact the writer: hmadans@ocregister.com or Twitter: @HannahMadans

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