ARCHIVED - The Harper Government Announces New Direction for Nuclear Laboratories

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February 28, 2013

OTTAWA — The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced the next steps in plans to engage the private sector in the management of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) Nuclear Laboratories.

“To ensure the best possible management, we are restructuring the management of our Nuclear Laboratories by bringing in private sector rigour and efficiency,” said Minister Oliver in a speech to the 2013 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show. “We will ensure that funding is directed to national priorities, ensure cost recovery for services provided to users, and reduce the financial cost and risk for Canadian taxpayers over time.”

In the coming months, the Government of Canada will engage in a competitive procurement process to restructure the management and operation of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Nuclear Laboratories. In doing so, the Government is demonstrating its commitment to fairness and the responsible use of taxpayers’ dollars. An information session for industry will be held to launch this process. The Government is seeking to implement a Government-owned, Contractor-operated (GoCo) model, as is done in other jurisdictions, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.  

This competitive procurement process will follow government best practices in engagement, oversight, transparency and due diligence, including the use of third-party advisors. Over the coming weeks, the Government will be acquiring the services of financial and nuclear advisors as part of the process.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited will conduct normal business during the process, and employees and other interested parties will be kept informed of progress. Employees can be assured that the Government is sensitive to their situation during this transition period and that it recognizes the talent and expertise that are critical to Canada’s nuclear sector.

Recognizing the wealth of expertise and unique facilities at the Laboratories, the Government is taking this next major step in restructuring Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to put in place the conditions for Canada’s nuclear industry to succeed in the future. This is in keeping with the conclusions of the Government of Canada’s Review of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and draws on input from the industry and other stakeholders following a Request for Expression of Interest issued last year.

The Government will focus the Laboratories on three key objectives: managing its radioactive waste and decommissioning responsibilities; performing science and technology activities to meet core federal responsibilities; and supporting Canada’s nuclear industry through access to science and technology facilities and expertise on a commercial basis. 

The Government is still assessing the value of investing federal tax dollars in longer-term nuclear innovation. Over the coming months, the Government will work to understand the potential business case for a forward-looking, industry-driven nuclear innovation agenda.

The health, safety and security of Canadians and environmental stewardship in all aspects of the nuclear industry remain a priority of the Harper Government. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada's independent nuclear regulator, will continue to regulate all parts of the nuclear industry in Canada, including the Nuclear Laboratories. During the restructuring process, the Government will take all steps necessary to protect national security.

“Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Nuclear Laboratories possess a capacity for nuclear research and development that is among the best in the world,” said Minister Oliver. “Its restructuring will provide Canadians with a cost-effective, world-class research and technology organization focused on results serving the nuclear industry and Canadians.”

Media may contact: 

David Provencher
Press Secretary
Office of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resource

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

The general public may contact: 

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