Friday, February 22, 2008

Taking the Safety out of CNSC

Yeah, I know. A lot of people didn't believe the Chalk River fiasco was a "manufactured" crisis. But now that Canada's nuclear regulator has changed tracks, it becomes obvious.
Canada's nuclear safety regulator is reinstating a fast-track process for approving reactor projects, signalling a new willingness to support the industry, sources say.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has indicated to industry officials that it plans to get back into the business of prelicensing new reactor designs, removing a major roadblock for the sector, sources familiar with the talks said.

The regulator has also made a specific commitment to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to review the company's proposed ACR-1000 reactor, an industry official said.


"This is good news for everybody," a nuclear industry executive said. "It will be a welcome change."


In the fall of 2006, Ms. Keen cancelled a 2003 memorandum of understanding with AECL that provided for a preliminary review of the company's ACR-1000 design and modifications to existing Candu 6 reactors. The agreement had provided a process for identifying potential licensing issues and for giving AECL reassurance that the reactors could be licensed. The CNSC had not signed similar accords with other companies.

The cancellation came as a blow to AECL, because it meant the company no longer had a clear advantage over its rivals. It also heightened tensions between Ms. Keen and Mr. Lunn. While he was publicly saying it was imperative that AECL win the contract to build new reactors in Ontario, she was saying the regulator will remain technology-neutral.

Ms. Keen's successor, Michael Binder, has wasted little time indicating that things will be different under his leadership, the sources said.

"He seems to be more willing to work with the industry," said an industry executive.

Just send in a stamped, self-addressed envelope and your approval is in the mail. The "regulator" will be more than happy to help.


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