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Canada seeks bids for atomic energy firm

by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) May 28, 2009
The Canadian government on Thursday moved to get out of the nuclear energy business, inviting bids for its commercial reactor division amid heady global demand for atomic energy.

"Nuclear energy is an emission-free source of power that is experiencing a renaissance around the world," said Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt in a statement.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)'s CANDU reactor division "needs strategic investors to take full advantage of this opportunity, strengthen its global presence and reduce the financial risks carried by taxpayers."

Proposals are to be assessed based on the buyer's ability to grow the division's domestic and foreign reactor sales, helping to retain some 30,000 Canadian jobs in the sector.

AECL's Research and Technology Division, which includes the Chalk River Laboratories, will not be part of the sale.

In May, Raitt told a news conference AECL could not thrive in its current form as it is too small, with a mere 10 percent of installed reactor capacity in the world.

"Success in the nuclear industry today requires scale, financial strength and access to growing markets," a government report said. "Compared to its competitors, AECL is undersized and undercapitalized."

Buyers could include France's Areva, Russia's state-owned Rosatom, Toshiba-Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi or Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

There are currently more than 400 nuclear power plants in operation worldwide, producing less than 25 percent of electricity supplies.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency said in an October 2008 report that 1,000 new reactors of the size commonly in use today would need to be built by 2050 to meet growing power demands.

Over the past year, Canada has signed deals with Libya, Kazakhstan and India to open up their markets to Canadian reactors.

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Vienna (AFP) Dec 16, 2009
Environmental organisation Greenpeace on Wednesday slammed Slovenia's plans to build a second reactor at its nuclear power plant in Krsko, where an incident triggered a Europe-wide alert last year. "It cannot be that Slovenia continues to operate -- and even wants to expand -- a dangerous nuclear reactor on its border to Austria," Greenpeace energy expert Jurrien Westerhof said in ... read more

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