Friday, 6 December 2013

B&W, Cavendish, Battelle team up in bid to manage AECL labs

The joining forces: B&W, Cavendish, Battelle team up in bid to manage AECL labs: "The Babcock & Wilcox Company has partnered with UK-based Cavendish Nuclear Ltd. and US-based research and development organization Battelle in pursuit of a contract for managing Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's Nuclear Laboratories.
The Canadian government announced in February that it would launch a competitive process for the management of the nuclear labs, principally the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, and the Whiteshell Laboratories in Manitoba.
It is seeking to implement a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model, as is used in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The international consortium of B&W, Cavendish and Battelle offers valuable experience from work in North American and the United Kingdom, according to George Dudich, President, B&W Technical Services Group.
In addition to its work in Canada, B&W supports the US Department of Energy in areas such as national laboratory management, nuclear operations, infrastructure modernization, and environmental restoration and management.
Cavendish Nuclear is the largest nuclear site management, engineering and support services contractor in the UK, with nuclear site licensee experience at Harwell, Winfrith and Dounreay in England and Scotland.
Battelle, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is an international science and technology enterprise with a management role at seven national laboratories.
AECL's Nuclear Laboratories are responsible for nuclear science and technology priorities for safety, security, health, the environment, waste management and clean energy technologies, as well as the production of medical isotopes.
"Canada's Nuclear Laboratories are held in high regard by the international community, and have a rich history in the development of the nuclear industry. We're eager to partner with this team to provide a confident and secure future for Chalk River," said Dr. Ron Townsend, Executive Vice President of Global Laboratory Operations for Battelle."

Directly from the horse's mouth:

Employees at Ontario nuclear facility vote to join USW union

Employees at Ontario nuclear facility vote to join USW union: “Our first priorities will be pending negotiations and how AECL employees will be affected by future changes in the operations.”

Floating SMR: Russia’s answer to flexible low maintenance nuclear power?

Floating SMR: Russia’s answer to flexible low maintenance nuclear power? "While the US remains the most promising market for SMR development and installation, Russia is making waves with its barge-based technology. It might just be the added-value proposition of low maintenance and no decommissioning that is the clincher. This article has been updated. Russia is quite literally pushing the boat out with small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Earlier this year, World Nuclear News reported on how Rosenergoatom, Russia’s state-owned manufacturer, had put two reactors onto a barge in Saint Petersburg after four years of testing. The barge-based plant is intended to set sail for northeast Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula, in the East Siberian Sea, to serve mining interests close to the Arctic, according to reports. But Russia, which is working on a number of SMR variants, clearly expects to be able to commercialise its floating designs abroad, too. “The Russian business model, as I understand it, is that they will simply tow in a 40MWe unit, connect it to your drop line, and provide you with power for up to three years,” says Jay Harris, an SMR consultant based in Canada. “They will either charge you a flat rate to provide the capacity and availability for the power, or use a per-kilowatt-hour fixed price model. When the unit requires service or refuelling, they tow in a new unit and disconnect the old one.” Old reactors will return to a centralised service yard in Russia, he adds, so as well as having no upfront cost the electricity customer does not have to deal with spent fuel issues or even outages."’s-answer-flexible-low-maintenance-nuclear-power#sthash.znkUKIod.dpuf

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Attack on science shows need for new parliamentary watchdog

I'd say also a science advisor or council is also a must!

Ontario energy plan

"The government of Ontario has kept nuclear at the centre of its updated long-ter...m energy program, with major refurbishments planned for the Bruce and Darlington power stations. However, it has decided to defer the construction of new nuclear capacity."

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Supply of medical isotopes has dangerously decayed

And they want to stop producing medical isotoes at NRU by 2016??? Supply of medical isotopes has dangerously decayed: "The NRU reactor at Chalk River Laboratories, which produces approximately 40% of the world’s medical molybdenum supplies, will close in 2016. OSIRIS, BR-2 and HFR are also due to close within the next five years. Two reactors planned as replacements for NRU, Maple-1 and 2, were cancelled in 2008."

See also


The face of AECL's future?

The face of AECL's future? "The company hoping to operate Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories strengthened their bid Tuesday as they entered into a partnership with two world-leading nuclear and research and development firms.
The Babcock and Wilcox Company, which is seeking to take over management of Chalk River under a government-owned, contractor operated model (Go-Co), announced they will be forming a consortium with Cavendish Nuclear, a major player in Britain's nuclear industry, and Battelle Memorial Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit research and development organization.
Delivering the announcement during a reception at the Petawawa Golf Club, Ken Camplin, Babcock and Wilcox vice-president of corporate development, lauded both firms for bringing to the table a vast array of experience and an incredible track record of innovation.
Since Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced in February that the federal government would engage in a competitive procurement process to contract out the management of AECL assets to the private sector, Camplin said his company has been developing a venture that had a shared vision and commitment for Chalk River Laboratories.
To that end, the firm has been proactive opening offices in Deep River as it pursues the Go-Co model for Chalk River. Camplin added he feels AECL president Dr. Bob Walker has been on the right track with a transformation that should see a cost-effective, world-class research and technology organization focused on serving the nuclear industry.
“We really believe the keys to the kingdom rest in executing science and technology with excellence and equally important growing the science and technology and the research and development portfolio in a deliberate and sustained fashion,” said Camplin. “We want to be the best possible agents and facilitators for Chalk River to really obtain all those things.”
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Babcock and Wilcox Company provides design, engineering, construction and facilities management services to nuclear, fossil power, industrial and government customers worldwide. Its Canadian offices are located in Cambridge, Ontario and currently provides operations to four national laboratories.
Cavendish Nuclear operates three nuclear sites in the U.K. that the company states are similar to Chalk River. Its expertise rests in the design and build of waste treatment facilities. The firm also looks after the British-made Victoria class submarines that had been sold to Canada.
“We're quite pleased to team up with world-class lab operators and a world-class consortium to address Chalk River,” said Andrew Wettern, business development director for Cavendish.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, the Battelle Memorial Institute is an international science and technology enterprise that explores emerging areas of science, develops and commercializes technology, and manages laboratories for its clients. It currently manages seven national laboratories in the U.S. Ron Townsend, executive vice-president of global laboratory operations, said Chalk River has a rich history in the development of the nuclear industry.
“Chalk River is held in high regard by the scientific collaborators that work for it but the future is not certain,” said Townsend.
He added Chalk River and the surrounding community has all the elements for a successful way forward.
“We have an aspiration that Chalk River will become Chalk River National Laboratory,” said Townsend. “The most important thing that we can do is to stabilize Chalk River National Laboratory and provide a confident, secure future for that laboratory because it is so important to this community and the nation of Canada.”"

20-Year Partnership Converts 20,000 Russian Nuclear Warheads into Fuel for U.S. Electricity

20-Year Partnership Converts 20,000 Russian Nuclear Warheads into Fuel for U.S. Electricity:!

Unplanned interruption to the Canadian supply of the medical isotope molybdenum-99

AECL reports an unplanned interruption to the Canadian supply of the medical isotope molybdenum-99:

Innovation: The key to regulating for the future

I'd say innovation is key for a successful run of all the functions of nuclear sector not just regulations... innovation without a new research reactor replacing the aging NRU will be minimal...

Radiation put in perspective

Radiation put in perspective, another great graphic:

American Conference on Neutron Scattering: June 1-5, 2014

Mark your calendar for American Conference on Neutron Scattering: June 1-5, 2014:

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Chinese plants make headway

More progress for Chinese reactors: "Two more nuclear power plants in China are progressing towards commissioning. Hongyanhe's second unit has achieved first criticality, while fuel loading has begun at Yangjiang unit 1.
China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) announced that Hongyanhe 2 reached criticality on 24 October. Work began on the 1080 MWe Chinese-designed CPR-1000 reactor in Liaoning province in 2008. Hongyanhe 1, also a 1080 MWe CPR-1000, began commercial operation earlier this year. Work is also under way on two further CPR-1000s at the site.
Meanwhile, work has begun to load nuclear fuel into the first of four CPR-1000s under construction at Yangjiang in Guangdong province. The unit has been undergoing pressure tests since construction work was completed in June. Systems including diesel back-up generators have also been tested, and safety exercises including emergency drills were completed at the plant prior to it receiving regulatory permission to commence fuel loading.
Work began on Yangjiang 1 in 2008, with units 2-4 following in in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Work began earlier this year on Yangjiang 5, the first of two CPR-1000+ units - a more advanced version of the CPR-1000 design - planned for the site, making Yangjiang the largest nuclear construction site in the world. Unit number 6 is slated to start construction in 2014, and all six reactors should be in operation by 2018."

Another blow to Candu Inc

Another blow to Candu Inc: "Russia has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply Jordan with its first nuclear power plant. The initial reactor of the two-unit plant is expected to start operating in 2020.
Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), told the country's official news agency Petra that Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will build the plant. Under Russia's offer, Rosatom's reactor export subsidiary AtomStroyExport (ASE) will be the supplier of the nuclear technology while Rusatom Overseas will be strategic partner and operator of the plant.
According to Toukan, Russia will contribute 49% of the project's cost, reportedly to be $10 billion, with the Jordanian government providing the remaining 51%. However, he said that financing of the plant has yet to be finalized and noted that Russian could supply the plant on a build-own-operate basis.
Three vendors were shortlisted by JAEC in May 2010: an Areva-Mitubishi Heavy Industries consortium, Russia's AtomStroyExport and Canada's SNC-Lavalin International. The designs under consideration were the Atmea1 pressurized water reactor, the AES-92 model VVER-1000, and the Enhanced Candu-6 pressurized heavy-water reactor. The vendors were subsequently invited to tender for the turnkey plant and submitted their technical offers to JAEC in July 2011."

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Energy demand in Africa

Nuclear power can easily bridge the gap between the power they have in Africa and the power they really need (for exampleonly about 25 stations similar to Bruce power stations can fully produce the maximum predicted required power by Nigeria in 2030, in comparison that number goes up to 70 for a coal power plant similar to the largest in North America: Nanticoke):



Tuesday, 22 October 2013

UK signs nuclear power deal with China, France

Great for Britain, not so good for Candu! not surprising if they cannot sell one in Canada, how could they compete internationally??? "In a back-to-the-future bet on its energy policy, the British government announced a long-elusive $26 billion deal on Monday to build the first new nuclear power station in Britain since 1995.

In reaching its nuclear deal with EDF Group, the big French state-controlled utility, and opening the door to financing from China, the British government signaled that whether in terms of environmental concerns, consumer prices or Britain’s long-term energy independence, the free market alone no longer served the national interest.
“This government is facing a looming energy crisis in this decade thanks to years of neglect and underinvestment,” Edward Davey, the British secretary of energy and climate change, said at a news conference in London.
Britain has been gripped by growing worries about its future power supplies, with supply falling and prices rising. Electric utilities have been reluctant to invest in new gas-fired plants to replace dirtier coal-burning ones because of many uncertainties — including a new energy bill winding its way through Parliament and the growth of subsidized wind and solar energy projects.
Mr. Davey said that Britain would need to replace about 60 percent of its generating capacity “in a relatively short time,” as Britain closes coal-fired plants to meet its climate-change objectives of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025.
The country will also gradually close its mostly aging collection of nuclear plants, which now produce 19 percent of Britain’s power. Only one of the plants, Sizewell B, which was finished in 1995, has modern technology.
The twin reactors envisioned in Monday’s announcement are to be built at Hinkley Point, in southwest England, which is currently the locale of two 1970s-era reactors. They would advance the government’s goal of adding more low-carbon sources of energy, but the project will come with a huge price tag. It is the kind of long-term project, with an even longer horizon for paying for itself, that private investors alone would be unlikely to undertake. The overall costs of building the plants is estimated at £16 billion, or $26 billion, in 2012 terms.
To reduce the investment risk, Britain and EDF are bringing in two state-backed Chinese companies, the China General Nuclear Corporation and the China National Nuclear Corporation. EDF also says it is talking to other investors that may take as much as a 15 percent stake.
The Chinese companies will take a stake of 30 to 40 percent in Hinkley Point. According to EDF, which is working with the two Chinese companies on nuclear power stations in China, the companies will be “strategic and industrial partners” in the project and will be given the “opportunity to gain experience in the U.K. and will support their long-term objective of becoming leading developers in the U.K.”
But at the news conference, Henri Proglio, EDF’s chief executive, played down the Chinese role, saying that EDF was in charge along with the French reactor designer Areva, and that British companies would be assigned more important roles.
That EDF alone cannot finance the plant “highlights the complexities of modern nuclear power projects,” said Antony Froggatt, an industry analyst at Chatham House, a research institute in London. He said that it would be “better to invest in other” alternative sources of energy like wind and solar power.
Consumers will also wait a long time to receive electricity from the new nuclear plants, which EDF says will provide power equivalent to 7 percent of British consumption and enough to power almost six million homes. If EDF makes its final investment decision in summer 2014, the first of the two Hinkley Point reactors will not begin producing power until 2023.
British consumers and taxpayers will pay much of the bill. EDF will be guaranteed a price per megawatt hour of £89.50 to £92.50 — about $144.50 to $149.40 — for 35 years. Those prices, to be fully indexed to inflation, would be almost double current wholesale power prices.
Analysts say the terms may wind up being generous for EDF, which says it will make a return of about 10 percent from the project.
Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, the company’s British arm, said that any cost savings would be shared between investors and consumers.
The British government may have had little choice if it wanted to sign a deal at this time. Other potential suppliers like Hitachi of Japan are considered years behind EDF in their technology.
Nuclear power has attractions. Unlike renewables like solar and wind it produces steady, reliable power for decades. But the upfront costs are huge and there is no payoff for a decade or more.
It is difficult to persuade a provider to build a nuclear plant without some guarantee, particularly now, when the emergence of shale gas in the United States and the growth of renewable energy in Europe are creating uncertainty about power prices.
And while Hinkley Point will not begin providing power for 10 years, the high costs of the plant will inevitably stoke the debate about rising energy bills in Britain. Even as the deal was being struck, millions of Britons were learning of increases in energy charges, including more than three million customers of NPower, a utility that announced on Monday that it would increase electricity prices by 9.3 percent and gas prices by 11 percent.
“This is a terrible deal for billpayers,” said Caroline Lucas, a member of Parliament for the Greens, who called for an investigation by the National Audit Office, a spending watchdog. “At a time when the costs of renewable energy are falling, it’s reckless for the government to subsidize the nuclear industry in this way.”"

Muzzling of federal scientists widespread

Why this is not surprising with this gvnt???!!! And remember it is the taxpayers money who pays for the research to begin with and they don't have the right to know??? "Hundreds of federal scientists said in a survey that they had been asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific reasons, and thousands said they had been prevented from responding to the media or the public.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which commissioned the survey from Environics Research "to gauge the scale and impact of 'muzzling' and political interference among federal scientists," released the results Monday at a news conference. PIPSC represents 60,000 public servants across the country, including 20,000 scientists, in federal departments and agencies, including scientists involved in food and consumer product safety and environmental monitoring.
In all, the union sent invitations to participate in the survey to 15,398 federal scientists in June. A total of 4,069 responded.
Twenty four per cent of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” were asked to exclude or alter technical information in federal government documents for non-scientific reasons. Most often, the request came from their direct supervisors, followed by business or industry, other government departments, politically appointed staff and public interest advocates.
The survey asked scientists whether they agreed with a number of statements about their ability to speak freely. It found:
■37 per cent agreed that they had been prevented by public relations or management from responding to a question from the public or the media about their area of expertise in the past five years.
■14 per cent agreed that they could speak freely and without constraints to the media about work they published in peer-reviewed journals.
■10 per cent said they were allowed to speak freely and without constraints about the work they do at their department or agency.
In addition:
■50 per cent of respondents said they were aware of “cases where the health and safety of Canadians" (or environmental sustainability) have been compromised because of political interference with their scientific work.

71 agreed that "our ability to develop policy law and programs that are based on scientific evidence and facts has been compromised by political interference," although a greater number (81 per cent) thought underfunding compromised those abilities.

48 per cent said they were aware of cases where their department or agency “has suppressed or declined to release information, and where this led to incomplete, inaccurate or misleading impressions.”
■74 per cent of respondents thought the sharing of government science findings with the Canadian public has become too restricted.
In recent years, there have been numerous complaints from scientists and the media about federal scientists being restricted from publicly talking about their research. Some complaints are being investigated by Canada's Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault.
Peter Bleyer, head of policy and communication for PIPSC, said this is the first time anyone has collected “quantifiable evidence” about political interference in the communication of federal science to the public.
“It’s a potential threat to all Canadians,” he said. “We need to fix it.”"

This is the link to the full survery document:

100 years of x-ray crystallography

Great video: 100 years of x-ray crystallography: "X-ray crystallography is one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century. This animated journey through its 100 year history begins with the pioneering work of William and Lawrence Bragg in 1913 and ends on the surface of Mars. To date 28 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to projects related to the field and x-ray crystallography remains the foremost technique in determining the structures of a huge range of complex molecules.
• This film was produced in celebration of the Bragg Centenary and was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council"

Energy Risk: Radiation Superstition

A good read:    "
People rationally fear possible accidents spreading deadly radioactive materials. Indeed massive doses of radiation did kill 38 emergency workers at Chernobyl, and the fallout of short-lived iodine resulted in 4000 cases of thyroid cancer and 15 deaths. However there is no evidence of the thousands of hypothetical deaths predicted by extrapolation of deadly exposures to lower radiation doses. Opponents of nuclear power have now hyped this death number up to one million, without observable evidence.
Using simplistic mathematical extrapolations from the effects of high-radiation accidents, nuclear power opponents claim that no amount of radiation is safe — not even the low-level natural radiation that comes from the sky and from earth’s radioactive potassium, uranium, and thorium created billions of years ago. Potassium is in our food and our bodies. Rocks contains the thorium and uranium that decays to radon or fuels electric power plants.
Reporting about the Fukushima accident created hysteria without basis. A UN scientific committee charged with investigating the accident’s health effects reported in December that no radiation health effects have been observed among public or workers, and it cautioned against extrapolation to predict health effects of low-level radiation. Radiation superstition causes great harm. Japan is wasting billions of dollars preventing repopulation of radiologically safe areas. Hundreds have died from evacuation stress. Importing liquified natural gas to replace nuclear power has driven Japan’s balance of trade negative.
People unnecessarily fear low-level radiation from accident-dispersed material, buried waste, or medical procedures. EPA required Yucca Mountain engineers to limit accidental releases to just 1/20th of natural radiation for 10,000 years. Dental X-ray technicians routinely drape lead blankets on patients to protect them, but it would take over 10,000 such X-rays to observe any health effect.
Prolonged radiation exposure is safe at natural environmental levels; each cell rapidly repairs DNA strand breaks: one per second per cell. Early life evolved when the natural radiation rate was 3 times greater than now. Today people living in places where natural radiation is 5 times normal exhibit no more cancers. People living in mile-high Denver get more cosmic radiation, but exhibit no more cancers.
Radiation dose rates are as important as doses. High radiation rates overwhelm natural cellular defenses. Doses deadly to Chernobyl workers would have no effect if spread over a lifetime. Cancers are destroyed by multiple concentrated radiation treatments, allowing time between for less-irradiated tissue to recover. In 2012 MIT radiation researchers discovered no DNA damage from exposure rates 30 times as great as natural radiation, and Lawrence Berkeley Lab scientists actually observed how low-level radiation stimulated repair within cells. Long-term, low-dose radiation is benign.
Nuclear industry and shipyard workers exposed to low-level radiation developed fewer cancers. Accidental contamination of building steel by recycling a medical radiation source exposed 8000 Taiwan residents to radiation 7 times natural levels over 30 years, and cancer rates were dramatically reduced. Last year the Dose Response Journal and the American Nuclear Society published compendia of articles evidencing how low-level radiation is benign or healthful.
The vague radiation regulation, “as low as reasonably achievable” encourages ever more costly impediments to affordable nuclear power. This could be fixed with “as high as reasonably safe” limits that are set with evidence, as practiced for other environmental hazards. Nuclear power can solve our energy, climate, and poverty crises. Should we forsake the future of the planet by clinging to a superstition?"

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

France Commits to ESS

Great news from ESS: France Commits to ESS
"French officials say they are prepared to sign a Letter of Intent committing to the construction of the European Spallation Source. France joins the host nations, Sweden and Denmark, by solidifying its contributions to the project.
French representatives have announced today at the ESS Steering Committee meeting in Lund, that they are prepared to sign a Letter of Intent. In meetings with Swedish and Danish officials, representatives from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) said they are prepared to commit to fund the project.
“This is a very significant step for ESS and the European science community,” says Lars Leijonborg, Sweden’s Chief Negotiator. “France’s commitment is a clear signal of support. The contributions of French scientists and engineers will make to the project are essential for success.”
The European Spallation Source ESS is a next-generation neutron source built in partnership with 17 European countries. It is expected to open up new opportunities for scientists using neutrons for material research. France has one of the largest neutron user communities in Europe with a tradition of research in this field.
The decision comes following an extensive review of France’s participation in international research organizations. The review, which concluded in June, determined that ESS is an important strategic future scientific instrument. The pledge reflects the country’s long tradition of supporting large-scale research infrastructures. It also solidifies the commitment France made to Sweden and Denmark when Lund was chosen as the site of the European facility.
“We are very pleased that ESS was highly evaluated by the French government’s review process,” says Peter Honeth, the Swedish State Secretary of Education and Research. “That is a very strong validation of the project’s importance for the future of European research infrastructures.”
The estimated cost of ESS is €1.843 million for construction. The French contribution will be a combination of in-kind and cash. French laboratories and research institutes will develop and provide a significant portion of the hardware for the facility in France.
“The success of ESS is dependent on the intellectual investment of its partner countries,” says Jim Yeck, Director General and CEO of ESS. “I am looking forward to collaborating with our French partners, who have a track record of excellence in world-class engineering and neutron science.”"
Discussions about details of the contributions are ongoing between French officials and the Host countries. Details still need to be worked out relative to the specific contributions, and operations of the facility. The final selection of the French in-kind contributions is subject to an independent evaluation committee, consisting of representatives from all partner countries.
“The negotiation process with France has been fruitful and constructive,” says Bo Smith, the Danish Chief Negotiator. “We are working on the details of the agreement, and specifics of the technical contributions, and this is a postive step forward.”

Friday, 11 October 2013

The end of Candu for new builds!?

The end of Candu for new builds!? Scrapped reactors ‘a psychological blow’ for Candu... "Ontario’s decision not to build new nuclear power plants will keep Canada’s home-grown atomic power company, SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy Inc., dependent on maintenance and refurbishment of its existing reactors around the world.
Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli confirmed Thursday a report in The Globe and Mail that the province scrapped a plan to spend as much as $10-billion new nuclear reactors as part of its long-term energy strategy. Declining demand for electricity in the province, the potentially huge nuclear build-out costs and decreasing prices for natural gas and other power sources undercut the economic justification for nuclear plants. Ontario will, however, continue an ongoing refurbishment of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station’s four reactors.
The Energy Ministry’s decision “is a psychological blow, although not a huge surprise,” said Mark Winfield, an environmental studies professor at York University in Toronto, who follows the nuclear industry. “The writing has been on the wall for several years,” he said, since the provincial government balked at an earlier plan for new reactors back in 2009.
Indeed, SNC Lavalin made it clear when it bought Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (now Candu Energy) from the Canadian government in 2011 for $15-million, that it was picking up the operation mainly for its refurbishment business. That’s one reason the price was so low, Mr. Winfield said.
Maxim Sytchev, an analyst who follows SNC Lavalin at Dundee Capital Markets, said the company’s acquisition of AECL “was always viewed as a way to play the refurbishment cycle, not a new build cycle.” As a result, Ontario’s decision “is not a make or break situation” for Candu Energy or for SNC Lavalin, he said.
Candu Energy said Thursday that it is disappointed with the Ontario decision, but that it still has “promising opportunities” for sales of new reactors offshore, particularly in China and Britain. The company said it doesn’t think the prospects for those sales will be hurt by the Ontario decision, which it hopes will eventually be reconsidered."

See alos:


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

U.S. Government Researchers Barred from Scientific Conferences

Is this really necessary??? U.S. Government Researchers Barred from Scientific Conferences: “It is frustrating, it is embarrassing,” Government researchers are barred from their own labs during the shutdown, and they cannot travel to conferences

Nobel Prize in Chemistry is given for taking chemistry to cyberspace

And the Nobel Prize in Chemistry is given for taking chemistry to cyberspace! The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems".

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

'God particle' theorists receive Nobel Prize in physics

'God particle' theorists receive Nobel Prize in physics, at last! "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013 to
François Englert
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
Peter W. Higgs
University of Edinburgh, UK
“for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”"

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab:" According to the BBC, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has fired its 192 lasers at a tiny target of deuterium and tritium, which has, for the first time ever, released more energy than was put into it. That could constitute evidence of nuclear fusion. The news is so new that Livermore hasn't put out a press release yet."

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fukushima’s Worst-Case Scenarios Much of what you’ve heard about the nuclear accident is wrong

Just stay with the facts:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Reversing the brain drain

Reversing the brain drain, surely it won't happen anytime soon with the lack of support for basic science by this gvnt!!! "While the federal government has taken steps to address a stagnant science and technology sector in Canada through a $9-billion annual investment (Economic Action Plan 2013, the Harper Government’s eighth budget since 2006), the focus on a trickle-down approach to research and development by shifting resources toward the private sector misunderstands the pipeline by which academic science supplies industry and falls short of nurturing the underlying wellspring of innovation that is necessary to drive economic growth in high technology.
Briefly, the measures proposed in Economic Action Plan 2013:
•Provide an additional $37 million per year to the federal research granting councils to support collaborations between postsecondary institutions and industry.
•Extend the eligibility for the granting councils’ undergraduate industrial research awards to bachelor’s students at colleges and polytechnics.
•Allocate $225 million to support advanced research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
•Provide $165 million for genomics research through Genome Canada.
•Provide $13 million to the Mitacs Globalink program to attract highly promising students from around the world to Canadian universities and allow Canadian students to take advantage of training opportunities abroad.
•Provide $141 million to ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintain safe and reliable operations at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratories.
•Support teaching and research infrastructure under the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the new Building Canada Fund.
Amit Chakma, president of Western University and chair of the U15 group of research-intensive universities (which undertake 80% of all competitive university research in Canada), recently responded that [the federal government has] “prudently chosen to maintain funding to the crucial innovation sectors that will help generate solutions to our pressing social and economic challenges.” There is no question that these investments are welcomed, particularly in the midst of a global economic downturn where many difficult choices had to be made, but are they sufficient?
Discovery-driven research and the commercialization of ideas are not mutually exclusive, and the more appropriate question is what investments should be taken by the federal government to realize the transformative potential of science in the marketplace, and meet its stated goals of:
1.attracting and retaining talented researchers
2.supporting excellence in science
3.bringing discoveries and innovations to the marketplace
4.building science and technology infrastructure
To remind us of where we stand, I refer you to The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012, published by the Council of Canadian Academies and recently reviewed by David Kent in a previous post. Some statistics worth highlighting are that with less than 0.5% of the world’s population, Canada produces 4.1% of the world’s research papers and nearly 5% of the world’s most frequently cited papers. Nevertheless, Canada shows a strikingly poor performance in general Science and Technology; and while the United States contributes to 27% of total publications, it claims over 40% of the top 1% of cited papers in the world.
Another statistic that is often cited in political discourse on the state of Canada’s science and technology is that in a survey of over 5,000 leading international scientists, Canada’s scientific research enterprise was ranked fourth highest in the world, after the U.S., U.K. and Germany. While this is true, it was also the only country in the entire OECD that had a net decline in research and development spending from 2005-2010 (-6%) compared to an average 17% increase across other OECD countries, and well below the level of investment in R&D in countries such as Israel, Finland and Sweden, all of which invest in excess of 3.5% of their GDP in support of R&D. (See figures below.)
While this may be due to “a return to more normal levels as a result of the conclusion of federal stimulus spending” (according to Gary Goodyear, until recently minister of state for science and technology), it does not change the fact that (like everything else) improving Canada’s position in the knowledge market necessitates continued investment. There is no reason why Canada’s science and technology sector should not be ranked first in the world, particularly when considering the underemployment rate of Canadian PhDs. Despite an exceptionally developed postsecondary education system, 6% of PhDs in Canada are underemployed, versus the United States which has nine times the population of Canada and a PhD underemployment rate of only 1.9% (source: Graduating in Canada: Profile, Labour Market Outcomes and Student Debt of the Class of 2005).
Although Canadian R&D spending relative to other countries is more concentrated in the higher education sector, funding policies have prioritized graduate student enrollments at the expense of postgraduate placements, creating an excess of PhDs with limited opportunities for career advancement. The corollary is that a relatively low share of Canadian R&D investment occurs in the business sector, which may be a primary cause of Canada’s lagging productivity growth in relation to many other countries (particularly the U.S.). Shifting funding away from basic research to support private industry, however, is not the answer since most high-technology companies are borne out of academic research laboratories and rely on collaborations with academic laboratories to support the majority of their research and development."

Babcock and Wilcox Canada Ltd. opens an office in Deep River

Babcock and Wilcox Canada Ltd. opens an office in Deep River: "Cheryl Gallant, MP, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke is pleased to welcome Babcock and Wilcox Canada Ltd. to Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.
“As one of the companies that have expressed an interest in a public/private partnership with the Chalk... River National Laboratory, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Babcock and Wilcox Canada Ltd. to the Upper Ottawa Valley. I understand the company is opening an office in Deep River. There will be a community welcome reception at the local Yacht and Tennis club following the ribbon cutting ceremony,” said Cheryl Gallant, MP.
“Babcock and Wilcox Canada Ltd. have told me they are excited about “Innovation Valley North,” our plan for jobs and future employment in the Ottawa Valley, and are opening the office to establish their commitment to be an active partner in Innovation Valley North,” stated MP Gallant."

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Stand Up for Science rallies target federal government

Stand Up for Science rallies target federal government: "Canadian scientists and their supporters held demonstrations across the country Monday, calling on the federal government to stop cutting scientific research and muzzling scientists.
“Stand Up for Science” events were held in 17 cities by the non-profit science advocacy group Evidence for Democracy.
“Scientists would rather be doing research than rallying, but many of us are concerned about the health of public science, and feel that Canadians should understand these concerns,” said Scott Findlay, a co-founder of Evidence of Democracy and a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa, in a statement.
“The Canadian standard of living is, in large measure, a result of scientific discovery and technological innovation. So every Canadian has a vested interest in the health of public science, and the use of scientific evidence to protect and sustain the values we hold.”
The group says “it’s time to stand up for science in the public interest” because in recent years:
■“Many important” scientific institutions have received cuts.
■There has been a shift in science funding toward the commercialization of research at the expense of more fundamental research.
■Government scientists have lost their ability to communicate their research to the public. That complaint is currently being investigated by the federal information commissioner.
The nationwide event, which follows a gathering on Parliament Hill last year to “mourn the death of evidence” called for the federal government to:
■Fund all scientific research, from basic to applied.
■Use the best available science and evidence to make decisions.
■Support the open communication of publicly funded science to the public, “unless there are demonstrably good reasons for not doing so.”
Justin Singer, a master’s student at Dalhousie University who helped organize the Halifax rally, said people should be concerned about this issue because it affects how policy decisions are made in areas such as health and the environment. He cited bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, sponsored by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, passed on June 18, 2012, which Singer described as weakening environmental law and the fisheries regulations."

Thursday, 12 September 2013

`Stand Up For Science' rallies on September 16

'Stand Up For Science' rallies on September 16: "Fed up with the erosion of science in Canada? Want our government to support science in the public interest? Think that decisions should be based on evidence and facts instead of ideology? Join us on September 16th to Stand up for Science!
It’s time to stand up for science in the public interest in Canada. In recent years we have seen cuts to many important scientific institutions, science funding has shifted focus towards the commercialization of research, and government scientists have lost the ability to communicate their research to the public.
Science matters to Canadians. Good science, when coupled with good decision-making, keeps our water and air clean, keeps us healthy, keeps our food safe and prepares Canada for the future. Science in the public interest is crucial for our well-being and long-term prosperity.
To make the public aware of this, and to call on the federal government to make a strong commitment to science in the public interest, we are organizing ‘Stand Up for Science’ rallies across the country on September 16th 2013.
We will be calling on the Federal government to make a strong commitment to science in the public interest by:
•Funding scientific research from basic science through to applied.
•Using the best available science and evidence to make the best decisions.
•Supporting the open communication of publicly funded science to the public, unless there are demonstrably good reasons for not doing so."

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Researchers look to nuclear future

Researchers look to nuclear future: "Carl Wesolowski can't talk in too much detail about his team's early unpublished findings, except to say they're positive. "We're very excited by initial results we can't really talk about," he said.
The results could lead to better, quicker medical treatments that involve nuclear science.
One of five teams who received two years of funding from the Fedoruk Centre early this year, they're unlocking the mysteries of the kidney.
"The new understanding of the kidney is not so much about the kidney, but about the rest of the body," the University of Saskatchewan scientist said.
"There's a lot of understating about how the kidney works - but how (it) affects the concentration of some test agent in the blood has as much to do with the rest of the body as it does with the kidney."
His team has developed a new model for establishing the relationship between the effects of a drug in the body and the kidney.
In doing so, he hopes to confirm previous studies that suggest the number of kidney tests needed for children could be cut to four from nine.
"Currently what is done with children who are sick enough that they have problems with their body fluids is you have to take a lot more blood samples after doing a standard injection in order to determine how their kidneys are working, because the current models are so clunky and difficult to use."
Already, the new method has been used for a few handful of patients and they hope to have more trials underway with colleagues in the United Kingdom, he said."

Friday, 23 August 2013

AECL provides information on heavy water event

AECL provides information on heavy water event:

“The following information bulletin is in accordance with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) commitment to enhance its voluntary public disclosure of events related to the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL). The subject of this public disclosure is the unrecoverable loss of approximately 11 kg or 10 litres of heavy water. During routine work activities on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 20, a spill of approximately 250 kg of heavy water from the Fuel Rod Flask occurred at the storage block area within the NRU facility.  The Fuel Rod Flask is used in the fuelling and de-fuelling of the reactor and the movement of other reactor components.  The water-filled storage block is used for temporary storage and cooling of fuel rods exiting the NRU reactor. AECL’s response to the spill was immediate and according to established protocols. Mitigation measures were effective in ensuring worker safety, preventing heavy water loss and recovering heavy water. During the response, the conservative decision was made to reduce staffing levels within the facility to a minimum complement. Normal staffing for the facility resumed that evening. While most of the heavy water has been recovered, a loss of approximately 11 kg has been measured through monitoring. The heavy water loss resulted from evaporation through the facility’s ventilation system. This heavy water contains trace amounts of the radioactive isotope, tritium, for which the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has established weekly regulatory release limits. The airborne release of tritium as a result of this incident was well below the regulatory limit, measured at 0.2% of the limit. This loss of heavy water has no safety consequences. AECL has identified that the source of the spill was the connection point between the storage block and the Fuel Rod Flask. Corrective actions are underway and the facility is expected to resume normal operations in the near future. This incident has been reported to the CNSC. There was no impact on AECL's ability to safely monitor or operate the reactor. At no time did this event result in safety consequences to workers, the public or the environment.”

Thursday, 22 August 2013

CNSC: Setting the record straight on gross exaggeration of the Shipment of HEU

CNSC: Setting the record straight on gross exaggeration of the Shipment of HEU: "There have been a number of articles recently that have propagated misinformation on risks associated with transporting nuclear materials. I am compelled to set the record straight on what I feel is a gross exaggeration.
The concerns and fears that communities have in regards to transporting hazardous materials are valid; however transporting nuclear substances must be done safely or it would not be licensed by the CNSC. Shipments of repatriated Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) have been underway since 2010, and the CNSC has ensured that they are carried out safely, protecting the security of Canadians and the environment.
Transport of liquid radioactive material is nothing new to the CNSC, our regulations and record speak for themselves. Liquid nuclear substances such as medical isotopes are safely transported daily in certified packages in Canada and around the world. In fact, according to the World Nuclear Transport Institute in London England, approximately 20 million shipments of radioactive substances take place around the world each year.
On occasion, these packages have been involved in transportation accidents; there has never been a significant spill as a result. This is because the packages we licence are unique, and designed with worse case scenarios in mind to make sure they will always maintain their containment. The containers used for the transportation of nuclear substances are in no way comparable to those used for other dangerous goods.
The containers for liquid HEU must comply with the CNSC Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations. To be certified, the containers undergo stringent testing, which simulate both normal and hypothetical accident conditions of transport. This includes a nine metre free-drop test, puncture testing and an 800°C thermal test, all without loss of containment. Information is available on our Web site, including dramatic and informative videos of the testing of containers certified for nuclear materials, at"

Nuclear, not wind, the way to go

Nuclear, not wind, the way to go: "Ten years ago, as the province emerged, blinking, from a dark tunnel of a massive blackout that left 50 million people without power, we asked why?
And we wanted to know what we could do to avoid having it happen again. We looked at what worked -- and what didn't.
One of the key ...elements to this province's survival was the Bruce plant on Lake Huron.
It -- and the Beck hydro-powered plant at Niagara Falls -- were the power sources that survived the power outage and got back up and running quickly.
Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne spoke to me Tuesday, recalling the dark days of August 2003.
"One of the good features of the CANDU is that when the turbine comes off-line and you are disconnected from the rest of the world, the operators have the ability to hold the reactors at power," he said.
While unexpected multi-unit failures such as the blackout are rare, Bruce workers had trained for a similar event before the turn of the millennium, when there'd been dire predictions of a so-called Y2K meltdown.
While that didn't happen, it left Bruce well prepared for the blackout of 2003.
They were able to keep their reactors "at power" and waited for instructions from the electricity market operator looking for generation to re-establish the grid.
"We returned our units to power very slowly so the market operator could match available supply," Hawthorne recalled. "We resynchronized within 18 minutes and then started loading up the units to the instructions of the market operator."
Coal-fired plants that have been shut down were also flexible, and helped restore power.
Hawthorne says if the Darlington nuclear plant had come back as quickly as Bruce did, it wouldn't have taken as long as it did to restore power province-wide.
"If Darlington had been able to do with their units what Bruce did, which they are designed to do, then that would have made a big difference to our ability to come back from that event," he said.
While the government would have you believe they're replacing coal with wind, the numbers just don't add up.
"Mathematically, we would say nuclear up, coal down," Hawthorne told me."

Financial post: Nordion Reaches Settlement with AECL to Resolve MAPLE Lawsuits and Arbitration Costs

Financial post: Nordion Reaches Settlement with AECL to Resolve MAPLE Lawsuits and Arbitration Costs:

" Nordion Inc. (TSX:NDN) (NYSE:NDZ) announced today that Nordion and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (“AECL”) have entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement to resolve the outstanding claims between both parties related to the MAPLE facilities. Nordion has also announced that, effective immediately,the parties have entered into an amended and restated isotope supply agreement and a waste management services agreement.

“This resolution provides greater clarity for Nordion and removes the uncertainty and liability around these matters,” said Steve West, Chief Executive Officer, Nordion Inc. “Nordion is now better positioned to focus on the needs and priorities of our business, including our important relationship with AECL, with a continued view to enhancing shareholder value and creating new opportunities for the company and our customers.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Nordion will receive CAD$15 million in cash from AECL, and AECL has released its claim against Nordion of approximately CAD$47 million for arbitration costs. Nordion has correspondingly withdrawn its MAPLE-related lawsuit against AECL in relation to the Isotope Production Facilities Agreement (“IPFA”) and the parties have released each other from claims relating to the IPFA and related litigation. The release of claims includes Nordion’s claim for damages against AECL under the IPFA of approximately CAD$244 million and AECL’s IPFA counterclaim for damages against Nordion of CAD$80 million.

The amended and restated isotope supply agreement is a non-exclusive agreement for medical isotope supply by AECL to Nordion, which has a term ending October 31, 2016. The supply agreement may also be terminated upon, among other things, Nordion establishing a satisfactory alternative supply of isotopes, the permanent shutdown of AECL's isotope production facilities, Nordion's failure to meet a minimum purchase quantity and any force majeure that continues for a period of more than two years. The primary cost of supply of medical isotopes will continue to be determined based on a revenue share methodology. Starting in 2014, the percentage of revenue share that AECL receives each year will increase throughout the term of the supply agreement contributing to a mid single-digit decrease in Nordion’s Medical Isotopes gross margin percentage over the course of the contract. In addition, Nordion has entered into an agreement to continue waste disposal services from AECL until October 31, 2026."

Monday, 19 August 2013

Atomic kitchen: French research center stores plutonium in pressure cookers

Atomic kitchen: French research center stores plutonium in pressure cookers: "A French nuclear research center has been using ordinary pressure cookers to store and transport plutonium and other “sensitive materials” for 50 years, it has been revealed. The news leaked as the center posted a public tender for 4,000 pressure cookers.
“We are seeking 4,000 stainless steel pressure cookers with a volume of approximately 17 liters,” the tender read, in an announcement more akin to a restaurant chain looking to upgrade its casseroles than a nuclear facility.
The center insists that pressure cookers have been safely holding atomic material for the last five decades, pointing to their secure fastenings that ensure contents don’t escape – even if dropped from a considerable height.
Conveniently, pressure cookers are also cheaper than specialized containers.
“The pressure cooker… provides the best value for money,”Bugaut François, the head of the research center in Valduc, told ‘France Info’ radio. “This is perfectly normal, we’ve done this for decades.”
And the practice is even more widespread, it seems.
A representative of French household goods manufacturer SEB claims to have sold thousands of pressure cookers to the country’s nuclear industry."

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Nuclear Power in Canada: Perception and Promise

A great read: Nuclear Power in Canada: Perception and Promise: "The Allies’ main concern at the time was racing Hitler to the Bomb, but the science – only uncovered in 1939 – promised so much more: unprecedented medicines and disease-fighting techniques, stronger and cheaper materials, seemingly boundless energy. Nuclear fission was fast becoming a revolutionary discovery of humankind, and by war’s end, Canada had the jump on the rest of the world in exploring its non-military potential.
 This happened at Chalk River Laboratories, about two hours west of Ottawa, in the middle of what many Canadians would have considered “nowhere”. Here the National Research Council built (and later turned over to a new crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) the world’s best-equipped nuclear laboratory in its day, sparking a journey of discovery that led to cancer therapy, nuclear medicine, a long list of scientific firsts, and a made-in-Canada nuclear power reactor that today leads the industry for fuel efficiency and safety.
 The most remarkable thing about this Canadian achievement is perhaps that hardly anyone in Canada knows about it. In its day it made a splash, but for a long list of reasons this field of endeavour has slipped into a form of faux-obscurity: anonymously underpinning a large segment of Canadian industry, science and medicine, while gaining the limelight only when there’s bad news to tell.
 This is not to whine, since the nuclear community in Canada has done quite well for itself: the CANDU reactor, one of two fundamental reactor concepts in commercial operation around the world, powers half of Ontario with technological distinctiveness that can only be compared to this country’s aerospace triumphs: it is the Avro Arrow that flew.
As an economic engine this invisible industry keeps about 70,000 Canadians employed and pumps $7 billion per year into the GDP – long eclipsing its historical investment from Canadian taxpayers. As a source of medical innovation, Canadian nuclear technology has revolutionized clinical diagnosis, and armed doctors with one of the most formidable weapons against cancer." ...."From wartime expedient to sustainable innovator, Canada’s nuclear venture has brought dividends in world-leading science, revolutionary medicine, and diverse energy options. Canadians are privileged to face multiple choices in mapping our economic future, and energy is at the heart of this process. It is also our ethical responsibility to ensure that developing nations have as much choice as possible, for as long as possible. Critical thinking today will ensure that at least as many options are open to our grandchildren, from whom we borrow our world. "

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The new reactor is still undetermined

The write up about the future of AECL in Re$earch Money magazine: The new reactor is still undetermined: "Editorial
 The fate of Canadian nuclear research appears to be hanging on an amorphous commitment to consider a fourth mandate for the restructured Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), which is now moving to a government-owned, company-operated (GoCo) model. The potential fourth mandate — first raised by Natural Resources Canada minister Joe Oliver — would involve the government examining the value to Canada of investing in longer-term nuclear innovation (see lead story).
 That, by logical extention, would require a $1-billion commitment to replace AECL's aging nuclear reactor — a long-delayed decision that will determine just what kinds of activities AECL will be doing five, 10 or 20 years from now. The lack of clarity surrounding this important component of a Canadian nuclear innovation agenda is worrying.
 So, too, is the government's apparent expectation that the a successful bidder to operate AECL would contribute to the cost of replacing the 56-year-old Chalk River NRU reactor, which is licensed to operate only to 2016. Nuclear reactors operate globally under a range of management structures, but one would be hard pressed to find an operator of a government-owned facility that has contributed to the capital costs of a new reactor.
 Canada has a long legacy of leadership in nuclear power generation and the NRU has served a diverse range of users and clients well. It is government's responsibility to pay for the cost of replacing the AECL reactor. If it insists that the future operator helps to foot the bill, the current process to moving to a GoCo model could be doomed to fail.
Mark Henderson, Editor"
 And from the main article: "Future of AECL will become clear as feds push ahead with GoCo implementation: The fate of nuclear research in Canada and the future role of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) will be decided as early as 2014 during a process to transform the crown corporation into a government-owned, company-operated (GoCo) organization. The competitive procurement process for seeking a contractor to operate the nuclear laboratories marks the second phase of AECL's restructuring, following a 2009 decision to overhaul the storied organization and the 2011 sale of the CANDU business to SNC Lavalin (R$, August 9/11).
The government is eager to attract private sector interest in AECL both as a customer and a potential operator. It is far less forthcoming when it comes to replacing the 56-year-old National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories. The aging, multi-purpose workhorse is far past its original due date and has been kept in operation via numerous overhauls and upgrades. Its current operating licence is due to expire 2016 and although a notice has been filed with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend that to 2021, its future will be determined well before then.
"The government didn't say no or yes on the NRU. It's willing to entertain a cost-shared approach. A number of intriguing proposals were put forward on how the NRU could be built and funded and that is intended to interface with this process (for selecting a new operator)," says Dr Robert Walker, AECL's president and CEO. "The government has said there are requirements to fulfill its role in the sector via science and technology. It will invest accordingly … The future is an open question."
Despite the sale of its CANDU operation, AECL remains a formidable research facility employing more than 3,000 people and commanding an annual budget of $690 million this year, with more than 83% or $520 million provided by the federal government. The decision to pursue a GoCo model was launched into gear earlier this year (R$, March 14/13) and was the focus of an Industry Day gathering more of than 100 participants (including 50 companies) in late June to inform interested parties of the process.
"The government wants to use the process to get industry input around a cost-shared innovation agenda, including the NRU … It expects the labs to be able to offer its services to the private sector. It's a progressive policy," says Walker, noting that the NRU is currently used for a wide range of research and commercial purposes from neutron scattering research and medical iostope generation to materials research and irradiation services.
When Natural Resources minister Joe Oliver announced the GoCo model last February, he outlined three mandates (see chart) but he also hinted at a fourth which was repeated by a senior AECL official June 4th before the Senate Committee on National Finance. AECL VP finance and CFO Steve Halpenny said the "potential fourth mandate" referenced by Oliver is "linked to the restructuring exercise".
"Specifically, the government will examine the value to Canada of investing in longer-term nuclear innovation. The government will assess the potential business case for a forward-looking, industry-driven, cost-shared nuclear innovation agenda. It will also be seeking independent advice from experts," stated Halpenny.
Halpenny also stressed that the process leading to a GoCo operation is being led by Natural Resources Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada: "AECL is riding shotgun to a certain extent. We are advising and supporting, but it should be very clear that this is not an AECL initiative".
Walker says that AECL's pursuit of a GoCo structure for future operations marks the first time such a model has been attempted at this scale in Canada, although it is common in the UK and the US, particularly labs overseen by the Department of Energy (DOE). The labs within the DOE are primarily operated by university consortia.
"It addresses a weakness which is to bring science into a jobs and innovation agenda," he says. "As for the fourth mandate as it relates to the research reactor, the government has not ruled on it yet. It will determine this during the engagement process. How much should the government invest as a funder and is it prepared to do so? It will be decided in 2014 and it would become one of the pillars going forward."
One possible obstacle to adding the innovation mandate to a future AECL is the government's pursuit of a cost-sharing model for future operations. If the government is expecting the private sector to share in the cost of replacing the NRU, it could find there are few takers. Walker says a public-private partnerships could be among the options being examined for building and operating a new reactor should the fourth mandate be added, although he acknowledges that none of the GoCos operating in either the US or UK require the operator to assume any share of capital costs.
Dr Nigel Lockyer, outgoing director of the TRIUMF laboratory for particle and nuclear physics is familiar with the GoCo experience in the US. He is about to head one of the biggest when he takes over as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago (see page 7). AECL Future Mandates:
1) The labs will continue to support the government in addressing its nuclear legacy and historic waste liabilities. The best practices of the private sector GOCO contractor will strengthen Canada's capabilities in all aspects of nuclear decommissioning and waste management.
2) The laboratories will provide nuclear science and technology capability to federal departments to help them fulfill their mandates related to nuclear safety, security, public health and the environment. AECL will continue to fulfill its role as an adviser to and agent of the government for public policy purposes, but we will do so with a stronger customer-supplier relationship with federal departments. 3) The nuclear laboratories will continue to support, on a commercial basis, the nuclear industry's need for R&D, testing and evaluation. This will include the development and validation of technologies. Access to the laboratories by CANDU reactor owners, CANDU energy, and the nuclear supply chain will be sustained.
Source: AECL testimony to the Senate Committee on National Finance, June 4, 2013
Lockyer says the motivation behind the university consortia operating DOE labs is to monitor lab activities with a view to commercialization possibilities. He says that if the government wants to transform AECL into a GoCo, it should ensure there is close interaction with universities to provide a steady flow of graduate students and post docs, adding that university consortia are superior to government operation of big labs. Yet, even under GoCo arrangements, governments set performance indicators that allow them to micromanage operations.
"For whoever gets chosen (to operate AECL), the big question will be, is Canada going to be a force in the world in nuclear power. Is AECL going to be in that business?," asks Lockyer. "I would think that the government will choose the company that will achieve their goals. I just don't know what those goals are. The isotope question has been settled so the research question is, if you build a reactor will you get the company to help build it? That won't work.""

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


The saga continues: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - AECL: "1.1. The Government of Canada (Canada) is intending to procure the services of a contractor to manage the operations of what are today known as Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL's) NuclearLaboratories under a Government-owned and Contractor-operated (GoCo) model. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit input and feedback from industry on various elements of the proposed procurement process, which is described in more detail below. Specifically, the objectives of this RFI are to:
(a) inform suppliers about the proposed procurement process, along with the associated timelines and national security requirements and to solicit feedback on any aspect of the procurement process;
(b) solicit feedback on the draft mandatory technical criteria to be used to pre-qualify suppliers during the Request for Response Evaluation (RFRE) pre-screening and industry detailed consultation stage; and,
(c) provide information on security clearance requirements so
as to solicit feedback on these items and prompt suppliers to initiate security clearance processes if required.
1.2. This RFI will also be used to seek input on the scope and interest of suppliers in participating in a broader nuclear innovation agenda.
1.3. To facilitate feedback on these, and other relevant topics,
several specific questions are provided in Appendix B. To support informed feedback, draft elements of the RFRE pre-qualification document are provided in Appendix A.
1.4. Finally, given the amount of time that Canada has allotted for the procurement process, suppliers are encouraged to begin preparing to meet the security requirements for the future solicitation, including for example initiating any security clearance processes that are required."

background documentation: