Consortium chosen to run Canadian laboratories

29 June 2015

The Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) consortium has been named as the Canadian government's preferred bidder to manage and operate nuclear science and technology organization Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).

Irradiation and post-irradiation services at CNL (Image: CNL)

The selection of the CNEA consortium of CH2M, Fluor, EnergySolutions, SNC-Lavalin Inc and Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Canada Ltd is one of the final steps in the restructuring of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) announced in 2009. The consortium was selected from a shortlist of four pre-qualified bidders through an independently monitored competitive procurement process.

The transition of AECL's nuclear laboratories to a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model is the second phase of the restructuring that has already seen the sale of AECL's former CANDU Reactor Division to SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy.

CNL was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of AECL in November 2014 in preparation for the transition to the GoCo management model. Contracts are now being finalized after which CNL's shares will be transferred to CNEA. The share transfer is expected to take place in the early autumn.

CNL's activities are located across several sites, primarily the Chalk River laboratories in Ontario and the Whiteshell Laboratories in Manitoba, and include the 135 MWt NRU (National Research Universal) reactor. The facilities are used for isotope production; reactor component and fuel examination; nuclear instrumentation and dosimetry services; materials and reactor-chemistry research; and training of nuclear professionals. CNL's mandate covers three core missions: federal waste and decommissioning responsibilities; providing nuclear expertise to support federal government needs; and the commercial provision of services to users of its facilities.

The GoCo model aims to create value and reduce risks and costs for taxpayers while continuing to fulfil the core mandate, and is similar to models in operation in the UK and the USA. CNEA president and CEO Mark Lesinski pointed to the consortium's extensive experience across CNL's three key missions and also the GoCo management model.

"CNEA brings a successful track record and extensive nuclear experience that will bring enormous benefits to the decommissioning and clean-up program, and in ensuring that Canada's world-class nuclear science and technology capabilities continue to grow", he said.

CNL president and CEO Robert Walker welcomed the announcement of the preferred bidder as "good news for the future of the Canadian nuclear sector and Canadian nuclear science and technology", adding that CNEA would bring "private sector rigour and efficiency" to CNL's management and operation.

AECL remains responsible for the management of CNL until the share transfer takes place. AECL interim president Jon Lundy said the company would be looking to CNEA to leverage existing expertise and to create value at the laboratories.

"As the contract is finalized in the coming months, AECL will take on its new role to oversee the contract and ensure value-for-money for Government and Canadian taxpayers", he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News