Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA)

Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA)

March 21, 2011 14:11 ET

CORRECTION FROM SOURCE-Safety Before Expediency: Ottawa Must Reconsider Sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) Says Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA)

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 21, 2011) - A correction from source is being issued with respect to the release sent out on March 21, 2011 at 10:55 AM ET. The term in the second paragraph, "safety before expediency," has been changed to, "expediency before safety." The complete and corrected version follows.

The Harper government's decision to sell off AECL may pose risks for CANDU customers with the break up and loss of nuclear expertise. "In light of the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant it is imperative that the government wait to see the results of any investigation before making a decision on the future of AECL," says Dr. Michael Ivanco, Vice President of SPEA.

Speaking at a news conference in Ottawa Ivanco said, "The decision to sell off AECL, by the Harper government, should not place expediency before safety. The sale of AECL will likely lead to the break up of the CANDU design authority and a loss of the expertise needed to ensure plants run safely and effectively decades into the future."

AECL has designed and built CANDU power plants in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick and in countries like Argentina, South Korea, Romania and China.

According to Ivanco, "Maintaining the critical mass of CANDU reactor design knowledge necessary to keep our plants safe is not a private sector mandate. It is the mandate of the Federal government who answers to the Canadian people; its shareholder. A mad dash to sell off AECL before an election, in the current context, cannot possibly lead to a decision that is good for Canadians or for CANDU owners abroad."

Throughout the 21-month restructuring process of AECL, the company has been prevented from signing any large lucrative commercial contracts to keep its engineers working. The result is that the backlog of commercial work that would normally exist has dried up and layoffs, coupled with the loss of design and safety knowledge, are inevitable unless something is done immediately.

"The federal government must stop the restructuring process," said Ivanco. "It must take the shackles off of AECL and let it sign commercial agreements; such as the $500 million refurbishment contract with Argentina. Above all, the federal government must ensure that, when it is time to implement the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, there are people still working at AECL competent to implement those design fixes. This is in the best interests of Canadians, not a fire-sale coupled with an abdication of our responsibilities."

The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA) represents engineers, scientists, technologists and tradespeople who work for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) in Mississauga, Ontario and abroad (excluding Chalk River Laboratories). SPEA members collectively represent the majority of Canada's nuclear power design expertise.

Contact Information

  • Society of Professional Engineers and Associates
    Michelle Duncan
    SPEA External Relations
    (416) 427-3525 (cellular)
    duncanm@spea.ca