11-02-17 / Mailbox
RE: Your Story Politics, ideology are killing the nuclear option
I was extremely interested to read your February 10 editorial titled “Politics, Ideology Are Killing The Nuclear Option”. I am an elected representative of the roughly 1,200 Scientists, Engineers, Technicians and Technologists at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and, while I agree whole-heartedly with the basic premise of the piece and have made similar comments, I feel compelled to correct some of the inaccurate information presented.
To begin with, the development of Ontario’s original CANDU Reactors was a joint effort between Ontario Hydro, AECL and Canadian General Electric.
Ontario Hydro managed the construction effort, not AECL as appears to have been suggested here. Ontario Hydro, after the completion of Pickering-A, and Bruce A, assumed responsibility for leading the design efforts for the Bruce B and Darlington stations, with AECL assuming specific scope in a few areas where Ontario Hydro lacked design resources.
Ontario Hydro managed both construction jobs at the same time AECL was building reactors in Romania, Korea and Argentina. Contrary to the assertion that AECL “hasn’t been able to make a sale since Ontario Hydro encountered huge cost overruns at the Darlington Generating Station” AECL successfully built three reactors in Korea and sold and completed two reactor builds in China and another in Romania. These were all CANDU-6 builds completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
The reactor design originally proposed for Ontario, the Advanced CANDU Reactor (ACR-1000), would have launched the next generation CANDU design onto the world stage. However, Ontario decided to suspend the procurement process, while identifying AECL’s bid as fully complying with the instructions. They refused to proceed because the estimated price was too high. The author skirts around this issue by suggesting that the Ontario Liberals developed cold feet after the fact; a more plausible explanation was that they demanded performance guarantees which naturally drove up the price and wanted Ottawa to share the risks (by dropping the price while assuming the same level of risk). The reactors currently proposed for Darlington new build are advanced versions of our CANDU-6 trademark product that we have built successfully in many countries and should pose no design risk and little construction risk.
Society of Professional Engineers and Associates