Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Nuclear management in Ontario: the central lesson: knowledge transfer is critical

Nuclear management in Ontario: the central lesson: knowledge transfer is critical http://canadianenergyissues.com/2012/05/25/nuclear-management-in-ontario-the-central-lesson/ ... this is a good read (makes you pause to think whether political appointee for such positions is a good thing??? a countries course must be determined based on the best benefits to the country as a whole not for the benefits or ideology of one particular political party that happens to be in power at the time): From the article: "A few days ago I tried to give some perspective to a newspaper article about the performance of the Pickering nuclear station. The newspaper article painted a grim picture, which I tried to explain by pointing up the decision, by utility chairman Maurice Strong, to reverse direction on nuclear policy. In the space of about ten short years during the 1970s, Ontario had become the most nuclearized jurisdiction in North America. As a jurisdiction we became one of North America’s economic powerhouses; our biggest industry, car manufacturing, relied then and relies today on cheap, reliable power.
During those ten years, Ontario became the proving ground for a unique reactor technology based on natural, unenriched, uranium fuel and heavy water moderator. This technology, CANDU, became, within ten short years, the biggest energy provider in the province, outperforming all other generation types combined. Suddenly, with this success under its belt, Canada was a force to be reckoned with in the international civilian nuclear arena. We began competing with some pretty formidable adversaries, all of whom were pushing enriched uranium, light water moderated/cooled machines. All had the backing, through various diplomatic and commercial mechanisms, of the United States government, by far the mightiest of the two superpowers.
The international sales effort was already underway when Strong took over as chair of Ontario Hydro. More importantly, so was the next wave of nuclear construction in Ontario. The Darlington project was nearing completion, and there were plans to build another station at the site. As a political appointee, Strong held his job at the pleasure of a political party, the NDP, that was then and is today anti-nuclear.
The fledgling NDP government was under severe criticism for also being anti-business. So, under the guise of cutting costs in government, Strong summarily reversed the nuclear policy that had transformed Ontario Hydro, the province of Ontario, and Canada. He cancelled the second Darlington station and set about getting rid of a large part of the nuclear workforce. Jeremy Whitlock of AECL has, as usual, provided an outstanding assessment of the Strong years, which he calls “The Lost Years.” It should be required reading.
As Whitlock points out, Ontario Hydro’s electricity demand forecast, on which the case for the second Darlington station was based, proved about exactly right. And as I have pointed out, that demand was met not by clean, cheap nuclear power but by fossil power.
Strong’s ideologically motivated decimation of the nuclear workforce ensured that Ontario Hydro would have great difficulty in refurbishing the older CANDUs at Pickering A and Bruce A. This is why seven of those CANDUs were taken out of service by 1997."

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