Mar 22, 2011 1:35 AM GMT
Aerial view of the Atomic Energy plant in Chalk River, Ont. The federal government's decision to sell off its nuclear agency may prove dangerous, engineers and scientists warn.
Photograph by: John Major, The Ottawa Citizen
The Conservative government's decision to sell off its nuclear agency may put Canada and other countries at risk, the association representing its engineers and scientists warned Monday.
In response to fears of a nuclear catastrophe triggered by damage to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates says the break up of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., likely would result in the loss of expertise needed to safely operate Candu nuclear reactors in the future.
"The sale of AECL poses unknown risks for the Candu fleet of nuclear power plants, as the company is likely to lose highly skilled staff," SPEA vice-president Michael Ivanco said in a statement.
"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."
In 2009, the Conservative government said it would split the Crown corporation in two, selling off the division that builds and markets the Candu reactors. The electricity-producing reactors are currently in operation in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and have been exported to South Korea, China, India, Argentina, Romania, and Pakistan.
The SPEA said the government should wait to see the results of any investigation into the Fukushima Daiichi incident before making up its mind on selling the agency's reactor division.
"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," Ivanco said.
AECL also oversees Canada's nuclear energy research program and manufactures nuclear medicine isotopes at its Chalk River, Ont. laboratory.
The SPEA represents more than 1,200 engineers and employees in Canada and abroad.
Read more: http://www.canada.com/news/Decision+sell+nuclear+agency+puts+Canada+risk+experts/4478727/story.html#ixzz1HHtjScPw