Canada’s Neocons Privatise Nuclear Industry

The federal government will announce today a plan to seek buyers for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s nuclear reactor business, and bring in private-sector management for AECL’s problem-plagued Chalk River facility. After a two-year review of Ottawa’s flagship nuclear company, Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt will launch a sale process with the aim of finding a major international partner for AECL to help boost global sales of its Candu reactors.

This as the federal government looks to raise money from asset sales to reduce its soaring deficit. The effort is hampered by depressed real estate prices.

It is worth pointing out the review was undertaken by the National Bank of Canada which looked for buyers. Thus we see some standard Shock Doctrine, facts being fixed around a policy by complimentary ideologues leading to a privatisation in time of crisis-

 The government’s decision to restructure AECL is its response to a report it commissioned from the National Bank of Canada last year to advise it on what, if anything, it ought to do with the Crown corporation. The bank advised that it should sell at least 51 per cent of AECL and encourage it to strike new deals with international players to help it make new sales in international markets. Government officials said National Bank found significant interest in buying a chunk of AECL although the bank’s discussions with potential buyers concluded in the first half of 2008. Government officials conceded that market interest may have withered because of the onset of the global recession.

Or put another way- the price will be low for the buyers they are lining up- expect some revolving door consultancies and directorships. As for the Tory Minister Lisa Raitt, she sued public groups to stifle their free speech when head of the Toronto Port Authority and celebrated how climate change would be good for Canada. The NRU unit at Chalk river that provides medical isotopes (one third of world supplies) will remain in government hands, it is currently shut down, leaks and is 51 years old. Thus liabilities remain on public hands even as they look to install a private sector manager for the plant, US style. A Canadian blogger writes

Lisa Raitt’s Nuclear Yard Sale- My husband studied physics engineering at McMaster University, and worked at the accelerator lab there as a nuclear safety technician. So he knows his nukes.

He’s yelling at the TV right now.

Not surprising when-

Ottawa will continue to fund research to support AECL’s commercial business, and could be left with legacy costs from the firm’s need to deal with nuclear waste.

It’s a corporate neoliberal wet dream!

But This Will Take A Long Time

It will take over a century and cost £850m, now the public is being asked what it thinks of clean-up plans for Anglesey’s nuclear plant. The Wylfa power station is due to halt electricity production in 2010, after nearly 40 years in operation. It has taken three years for specialists to pull together detailed plans for decommissioning the site. Those proposals are being put out for public consultation, starting with an open day at Wylfa on Friday.

As well as considering how to handle radioactive waste at the site, the environmental study being considered also looks at the cultural and archaeological impacts of decommissioning the station. “When Wylfa stops generating there will be period of four to five years when there will be very little difference in the visual impact of Wylfa on the skyline,” explained Ms Milburn. “When we get to about 2015, we will begin to see the skyline changing. The smaller building will disappear over a period of 10 years.” But the large reactor building that dominates the station’s site will remain in place for another hundred years, before the “final site clearance” stage is reached.

The report puts forward plans to build a new storage building on the site to hold the remaining intermediate radioactive waste, which will include plant structures that have been contaminated during the stations operating life.

So one plan is to sneakily turn it into a dump, nice. And a hundred years from now…I mean we’re guaranteed there will be the will and funding to dismantle the reactor, aren’t we? Yeah, I’m sure nothing could go wrong like a global financial crash, nah we’ll be all sensible and futuristic then and there’s no chance it will just sit there for ever. Too cheap to meter…

Too Cheap To Meter…

Still waiting…Oh nuclear power, why must you test us so?

In theory, at least, Britain now has 10 operating nuclear power stations, stretching from Torness on the Firth of Forth to Dungeness on the south Kent coast. Each has two reactors, and ministers boast that they supply about one-fifth of the power that keeps the lights on.

The reality, as an Independent on Sunday investigation shows today, is very different. The majority of the power stations are in dire trouble, and their failure is leading to the most acute concern in years that the country may run short of electricity this winter.

Two of the 10 have been idle for almost a year, with both reactors out of action due to corrosion. Another two have had one of their reactors closed down for months. And yet another two are having to run both their reactors at less than three-quarters of their normal power for safety reasons. Read the rest of this entry »