Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The big bad nuclear mafia

Also a good read: The big bad nuclear mafia: http://nuclearpoweryesplease.org/blog/2012/07/25/the-big-bad-nuclear-maffia/ ..."Quite often in the nuclear debate one encounters the idea that the nuclear industry is some industrial juggernaut of immense proportions, so large and rich that it can pay an army of lobbyists and crush the poor little renewable energy industry beneath its heel. Nuclear is firmly place next to oil, gas and coal in magnitude, richness and reach in the opponents mind. Renewable energy companies on the other hand are envisioned as small mom and pop buisnesses run out of the back of the yard with very small means and no political or economic clout to speak of. But what is it really like?
We can start by looking at individuals, extraordinarily rich people can have extraordinary influence. When it comes to oil everyone has heard of the oil barons of the last century. Names like Rockefeller and Mellon and perhaps even Deterding and Samuel. There is no lack of modern examples like Khodorkovsky or T Bones Picke and of course one can not forget the house of Saud. Oil and gas has created many individual with vast fortunes and influence. But when one search for "Nuclear Barons" nothing pops up. How about "nuclear billionaires"? Nope not much there either. Nuclear certainly has many legendary names attached to it, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Dyson, Rickover and so on. But it tends to be scientists and engineers posessing genius minds rather than industrial tycoons. There are of course people that are well off due to nuclear, I imagine that Anne Lauvergeon made a nice salary being boss of Areva, but no one really stands out. Even steel has had its Carnegie, matches has had its Kreuger but nothing like that exists for nuclear or uranium." ..."After reviewing these numbers, does anyone really think that nuclear has the economic might to prevent renewable, an industrial sector of about the same size? Does anyone think Nuclear makes a evil troika with big oil and king coal? If nuclear is in the same boat with other energy sources it is the renewables! The companies that build reactors also build wind power plants and solar cells. Nuclear and renewables both have to fight an uphill battle to take market shares from the big fossil fuels. Big oil and gas is the industrial juggernaut that can crush other energy sources, not nuclear."

Study rates nuclear a cheap source of energy

And for anyone wondering about the price tag for nuclear energy: Study rates nuclear a cheap source of energy: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/study-rates-nuclear-a-cheap-source-of-energy-20120731-23d56.html#ixzz22F0QGaM2 ..."The study by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics found both nuclear and solar photovoltaics would be more cost-competitive than previously thought.
Nuclear power came in on par with solar photovoltaics and just a little more expensive than wind power in a comparison of low carbon technologies in 2020."

Replacing nuclear with wind power: Could it be done?

A good read: Replacing nuclear with wind power: Could it be done? http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2012/05/10/replacing-nuclear-with-wind-power-can-it-be-done/ ...'The answer is clearly no. No technology is perfect, and there is always some impact in everything we do. Nuclear has the capability to meet the electrical needs for humanity for a millennia. That is a very compelling reason to use it, versus using a technology that only works intermittently and requires keeping all the conventional generators that we already have."

New nuclear power plant in South Korea

New nuclear power plant in South Korea: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-New_nuclear_in_South_Korea-3107124.html "South Korea's nuclear energy program continues apace, with first concrete being poured for unit 1 of the Shin Ulchin plant, while unit 1 at the Shin Wolsong plant has entered commercial operation.
A ceremony was held on 21 July to mark the pouring of first concrete at Shin Ulchin 1, marking the official start of construction of the Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. Groundbreaking for the first two units at the site took place in early May. First concrete for unit 2 is set to follow in about a year.
Government approval for the 7 trillion won ($6.2 billion) project to build Shin Ulchin units 1 and 2 was given in April 2009. Major contracts related to the plant's construction were signed in March 2010, with detailed site studies starting the following month. The reactor ipressure vessel is scheduled to be installed in unit 1 in June 2014. Unit 1 is expected to be completed in April 2017, with unit 2 expected to be finished in April 2018.
South Korea has worked hard to develop an independent nuclear industry since its first three commercial units were built as turnkey projects by Westinghouse and AECL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From those beginnings, through an extended technology transfer program with Combustion Engineering (which became part of Westinghouse), came the development of the OPR 1000 and then the APR-1400. The Shin Ulchin units are the second pair of APR-1400s to be built - two are already under construction at Shin Kori – but will be the first to be virtually free of intellectual property content from Westinghouse."

More on NASA's Curiosity rover and its landing

Here a few more interesting links related to NASA's Curiosity rover and its upcoming landing only 6 days away!: http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/post/28418576960/wil-wheaton-nasa-mars-curiosity-grand-entrance

APS: This Month in Physics History: July 1957: Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer submit their paper, “Theory of Superconductivity”

APS: This Month in Physics History: July 1957: Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer submit their paper, “Theory of Superconductivity” http://aps.org/publications/apsnews/200707/history.cfm
Fifty five years ago, in 1957, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and Robert Schrieffer presented their complete theory of superconductivity, finally explaining superconductivity that had been a mystery to physicists since its discovery in 1911... still remains one of the greatest theories of physics...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Westinghouse to prepare bid for Darlington

Westinghouse to prepare bid for Darlington: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Vendors_to_prepare_bids_for_Darlington-2407124.html ... seems like the competition between Candu inc and Westinghouse is on!: "Westinghouse will prepare detailed construction plans and cost estimates for two potential AP1000 reactors at Ontario Power Generation's (OPG's) Darlington site.
"The plans and estimates would provide significant input in helping the Province of Ontario determine the baseload generation option that is best for Ontario's ratepayers," Westinghouse said.
Westinghouse Americas president Joe Zwetolitz said that the company "is pleased to participate in the province's information-gathering process." The company has also opened an office in Toronto to better serve the Canadian market.
Some 100 Canadian suppliers currently provide a wide range of products and services for the Westinghouse product lines, the company said. "Additionally, a large percentage of the scope for the potential construction of AP1000 reactor units at Darlington would be sourced from Ontario or elsewhere in Canada.""

Nuclear powered Mars rover Curiosity scheduled to land on 1:31 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6, 2012

Nuclear powered Mars rover Curiosity scheduled to land on 1:31 a.m. EDT, Aug. 6, 2012, closing in on Mars to hunt for life clues!... here you could follow Curiosity on her journey, through these simulated views, which are updated daily: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
Interested in finding out how nuclear battery of the Curiosity Rover works? see: http://www.about-robots.com/curiosity-rover-nuclear-battery.html "Why didn't they send the Mars Science Laboratory with solar panels like the 2 previous generations of Mars rovers?
In short, NASA wanted to make this mission better and faster. The 2 main drawbacks of solar panels is that they don't work during the night, and they don't work during the Martian winter. One consequence is that the Mars Exploration Rovers couldn't work for more that half of the time."

Nuclear 'a stepping stone' to space exploration

This is neat! Nuclear 'a stepping stone' to space exploration: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN_Nuclear_a_stepping_stone_to_space_2707121.html#.UBY6qplY79U.twitter ..."A new era of space exploration is dawning through the application of nuclear energy for rovers on Mars and the Moon, power generation at future bases on the surfaces of both and soon for rockets that enable interplanetary travel.

NASA has reported the successful tests of power conversion and radiator systems for a nuclear power system it hopes to deploy on the Moon by 2020. It is based on a small fission reactor which would heat up and circulate a liquid metal coolant mixture of sodium and potassium. The heat differential between this and the outside temperature would drive two complimentary Stirling engines to turn a 40 kWe generator. Some 100 square metres of radiators would remove process heat to space.
Using an electric heat source instead of a real reactor, the Stirling engines, generator and a section of the radiator have recently been tested - producing a steady 2.3 kWe. The tests included operation in a vacuum chamber that simulates extreme temperature swings at NASA's Glenn Research Center, and under elevated radiation levels at Sandia National Laboratory. "It is very efficient and robust," said Lee Mason of Glenn, "we believe it can last for eight years unattended."
Space missions have so far used a range of power sources: chemical energy for rocket propulsion, solar power with batteries for low-power systems and small radioisotope thermal generators for even lower power applications and to prevent damage from the cold of space. The highest power level so far generated is the 100 kWe of the International Space Station, whereas a satellite or probe might use 25 kWe from solar cells.
Nuclear energy from fission reactors can provide larger constant supplies without reliance on sunlight or the burden of heavy batteries and rocket fuel. "A lunar base needs lots of power for things like computers, life support, and to heat up rocks to get out resources like oxygen and hydrogen," said Ross Radel of Sandia. The Moon is dark for up to 14 days at a time, and Mars is so much further from the sun that solar power would not be sufficient for life-support. For those reasons, "nuclear is a stepping stone to move further out into manned space exploration," said Radel.
NASA said that current plans foresee nuclear power employed on the Moon in around 2020. However, a nuclear-powered rover named Curiosity is due to land on Mars in the next ten days."

Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds

Climate change study forces sceptical scientists to change minds: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jul/29/climate-change-sceptics-change-mind ..."The Earth's land has warmed by 1.5C over the past 250 years and "humans are almost entirely the cause", according to a scientific study set up to address climate change sceptics' concerns about whether human-induced global warming is occurring.
Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised by the findings. "We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds." He added that he now considers himself a "converted sceptic" and his views had undergone a "total turnaround" in a short space of time.
"Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth's land has risen by 2.5F over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1.5 degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases," Muller wrote"

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Uranium supplies good for the long haul

Uranium supplies good for the long haul: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-Uranium_supplies_looking_good_for_the_long_haul-2607127.html "Uranium resources are good for 100 years at current rates of usage, but new mining investment will be needed to supply the sector in 2035 when it will have grown by 45-100%."
According to the WNN article to meet the "high" case demand to 2035 both "Significant investment and technical expertise will be required to bring these resources to the market and to identify additional resources." ... also see for a bit more details on the world's uranium mining: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf23.html

Nuclear expansion on track despite Fukushima: OECD report

Great news: Nuclear expansion on track despite Fukushima: OECD report... good to see that sensible decisions are still being made! http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/us-nuclear-uranium-report-idINBRE86P04S20120726 ..."Strong expansion of nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source in Asia is expected to press ahead despite the Fukushima accident in Japan that soured sentiment in some countries, a benchmark report said on Thursday.
An earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant in February 2011, leading to the closure of Japan's 50 reactors and spurring Germany to pledge to close all of its nuclear reactors by 2022.
Nuclear energy had been gaining momentum as an energy source for nations seeking to reduce harmful carbon emissions, but the Japanese accident caused second thoughts in some countries.
World nuclear capacity is, however, expected to grow by 44 percent to 99 percent by 2035, according to a biennial report from the United Nations nuclear body and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This was little changed from the range of growth of 37 percent to 110 percent in the edition two years ago of the report on uranium resources, production and demand, known as the "Red Book."
"We see it as a speed bump," said Gary Dyck, head of nuclear fuel cycle and materials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, referring to the long-term impact of the Fukushima accident on the global nuclear industry. "We still expect huge growth in China.""

Inventory of radioactive waste in Canada

Inventory of radioactive waste in Canada: http://www.radiationsafety.ca/resources/library ...a good overview of production and accumulation as well as projections of radioactive waste in Canada, the pdf document can be found at: http://www.radiationsafety.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Inventory-Report-2012_EN.pdf

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the atom

Another interesting read: How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the atom
Fukushima 'crisis' changed my mind on nuclear power: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/rss/fl20120724zg.html ..."Let's look objectively at what happened. There was a major earthquake, unprecedented in scale, followed by a 15-20-meter tsunami that flooded a large nuclear power plant. The equipment designed to provide power to the cooling systems in case of accident was flooded, and human error was also a factor. As a result, full or partial meltdown occurred in three separate reactors. It was pretty much a worst-case scenario.
Yet, not one person was killed by radiation, and nobody has been harmed, though two workmen, who have since been released from hospital, were reported to have received "radiation exposure to the legs." Overall, not much of a "disaster," especially compared to a genuine industrial catastrophe like Bhopal in India in 1984, where more than 10,000 people died and 500,000 were injured."

Using insights from social science to understand climate change deniers

Interesting read: Using insights from social science to understand climate change deniers: http://theenergycollective.com/karenstreet/96306/using-insights-social-science-presentations-climate-change ..."While we all want to do something about climate change, I’m not sure that we can move as fast as we would like. The one thing in our immediate control is to continue reducing our own greenhouse gas footprint. This helps reduce our cognitive dissonance (if I believe the climate is important, then I want to live as if it were important) and gives us better understanding of policies that encourage us to change our behavior.
Harder but more urgent is to begin working with society to encourage implementing good policies. Before we can accomplish much, however, two steps seem critical: move our planet’s accelerating climate change and the need for a steep cost on greenhouse gas emissions onto the list of what we all pay attention to. And secondly, tone down the rhetoric: instead of polarizing the discussion by attacking those who disagree with us, start questioning and testing our own assumptions and those of like-minded people in our group. Working with like-minded people, to help bring the discussion of controversial social issues to a better place, can be difficult; it is also where we are most likely to be successful.
Both steps require us to consider which sources are trustworthy, and to study those that point to possible errors in our thinking. Learning that we might be wrong feels awful, but it’s in a good cause, increasing the chance we will find actual solutions to problems such as climate change."

Monday, 23 July 2012

A to-do list for Canada at the world’s nuclear watchdog

A to-do list for Canada at the world’s nuclear watchdog: http://www.cigionline.org/articles/2012/07/do-list-canada-world%E2%80%99s-nuclear-watchdog ..."Canada is likely to soon assume the chair of the IAEA’s Board of Governors (the IAEA says it hasn’t received any nominations in advance of the Sept. 24 vote, but chairmanship rotates geographically and it’s in this region’s court). The position would provide the country with a perfect opportunity to pursue strengthening and reform of the agency and bolster Canada’s own image at the same time.
Among the measures it should pursue are: depoliticization (to the extent possible) of the board’s own proceedings; the drafting of an agency-wide strategic plan; implementation of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety agreed after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster; and budgetary reform that makes contributions more equitable, replaces zero real growth with a needs-based approach, and brings key programs like nuclear security and technical co-operation into the regular budget rather than relying on voluntary contributions."

CNSC allows Point Lepreau restart

CNSC allows Point Lepreau restart: http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/mediacentre/releases/news_release.cfm?news_release_id=418 ..."Today, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced its decision authorizing New Brunswick Power Nuclear (NBPN) to begin activities to restart the Point Lepreau Generating Station. At this stage, the station will not produce electricity, but will restart the reactor in order to perform several safety tests under the oversight of CNSC staff. NBPN will require further CNSC regulatory approvals to increase power above 0.1% of full power and above 35% of full power."

Sunday, 22 July 2012

An update on alternative radiopharmaceuticals for medical imaging

An update on alternative radiopharmaceuticals for medical imaging: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45577.html ...even if there are advances in medical imaging that may not require the production of 99mTc by NRU reactor, there is still need for a new research reactor to replace aging NRU for neutron scattering and nuclear R&D... "Medical imaging is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine. The development of innovative new imaging modalities, contrast agents, molecular probes and radiopharmaceuticals has significantly improved our ability to study biological structure and function in health and disease, and continues to contribute to the evolution of medical care. Imaging technologies that require the use of radiopharmaceuticals such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) fall within the field of nuclear medicine, a small but essential sub-specialization within the field of medical imaging. It is estimated that about 1.5 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed annually in Canada. Over 80% of all nuclear medicine investigations involve radiopharmaceuticals labeled with Technetium-99m (99mTc). The 99mTc is produced from Molybdenum-99 using generators manufactured by just two companies in North America: Covidien and Lantheus. The world's current supply of 99mTc is remarkably fragile, relying on the continued operation of just a handful of aging nuclear reactors that produce the Molybdenum-99. About 20% of the world's supply of Molybdenum-99 is made in Canada at the National Research Universal (NRU) nuclear reactor at Chalk River. Although alternative, non-reactor technologies for producing molybdenum-99 and its medically-useful daughter 99mTc have been known for many years, this technology has never been commercially developed as there has always been a plentiful supply of nuclear reactors around the globe."..."The emergency closure of the NRU in 2007 led to a significant disruption in the supply of Molybdenum-99 and the cancellation of large numbers of medical procedures due to the ensuing shortage of 99mTc. Although the shutdown was for a relatively brief period, the crisis highlighted the fragility of the Molybdenum-99 supply chain. The second closure of the NRU in 2009 resulted in a major interruption in supply, leading to a serious situation in the health care system due to challenges accessing Technetium-labeled radiopharmaceuticals. The continuing uncertainties in the supply of medical isotopes, especially 99mTc, caused both the clinical and biomedical research communities to look for alternative ways to produce the 99mTc needed for diagnosis and clinical care and also to explore the potential of alternative medical isotopes to replace 99mTc as the radiopharmaceutical label of choice in certain clinical procedures."

Candu workers picket in Brampton

Candu workers picket in Brampton: http://www.bramptonguardian.com/print/1407584 ..."A group of engineers set up pickets around Brampton this week to protest against Candu Energy’s proposal to cut employee wages and benefits.
About 800 nuclear scientists, engineers and technologists at Mississauga-based Candu Energy Inc. went on strike earlier this month after negotiators failed to reach a contract before the strike deadline.
Candu is owned by Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, and its employees design, build and service nuclear reactors that supply nearly half of Ontario’s electricity and 16 per cent of Canada’s overall electricity requirements.
Members of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA), the union that represents employees, say they are protesting against unfair demands by SNC and hoped to generate public awareness by hosting information sessions at various Metro Foods grocery stores in GTA locations, including Brampton.
The reason for this somewhat unusual protest, say SPEA members, is the fact that the president of Metro Food, Pierre Lassard, is also a senior executive at SNC Lavalin, the parent company of Candu Energy Inc. "

Sask. to benefit with Canada-China uranium export agreement

Sask. to benefit with Canada-China uranium export agreement: http://www.newstalk650.com/story/sask-benefit-canada-china-uranium-export-agreement/66340 ...great news for SK, more jobs, more prosperity: "The signature of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister has put the Canada-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement into force, meaning good things for Canada’s uranium exporters and even better things for producers in Saskatchewan.
The agreement expands a 1994 pact on nuclear cooperation and has been in the works for more than a year.
In January, the prime minister completed negotiations on the protocol during a visit to China. Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, penned his name to the supplementary protocol in Beijing this week.
Canadian exports for uranium currently generate about a million dollars a year with the majority of those exports coming from Saskatchewan.
Baird said the potential with the new agreement will see that figure rise significantly.
“It will definitely be in the billions of dollars in years to come and most of that benefit will be to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Baird.
Baird said this agreement has been a huge priority for the government as uranium mining giant Cameco already has contracts with Chinese electricity generation companies."
The story on CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2012/07/20/sk-canada-china-uranium-deal-1207.html
And this is from SK gvnt: http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=809d106d-cea0-4caf-a3b8-82ed874be6d8 

China in talks to build five new reactors in UK

China in talks to build five new reactors in UK: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/21/nuclear-britain-china-idINL6E8IKHDI20120721 ...remarkable for both China to be able to do this and for to continue with its plans to increase its nuclear power capacity..."A team from the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), an arm of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), met senior British officials in the past week, the Guardian newspaper said on its website.
The first part of the plan would involve CNNC and another state-owned firm, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, bidding in two separate groups against each other for a stake in the Horizon project, it said.
The paper, citing unnamed sources close to the Chinese, said the Chinese are also interested in other locations at Bradwell in Essex, in the southeast, Heysham in Lancashire and Hartlepool in County Durham, both in northern England.
"The Chinese have the money and the experience," the paper quoted a source close to the Chinese as saying.
"They see setting up in the UK as an opportunity to show they can operate in one of the world's toughest regulatory environments so they can then move into other markets in Africa and the Middle East."
The French company EDF is also interested in building new reactors in Britain."

Friday, 20 July 2012

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

A must read: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719?print=true

Senators see urgent need for national energy policy

This sounds about time, glad to see nuclear has a prominent place: 'Maintain strong support for Canada’s nuclear industry, Nuclear energy has an important role to play in Canada energy future"! Senators see urgent need for national energy policy: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/07/19/pol-paris-senate-energy-report.html ... see also: http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/energy/news/senate-defines-priorities-for-canadas-energy-policy-71760 "A new report from The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV) outlines 13 priorities to define an energy strategy for Canada.
“We see Canada’s potential as the most productive energy nation in the world, with the highest levels of environmental performance,” said Conservative Sen. David Angus, Committee Chair in a release. “But we also conclude that there is a great sense of urgency—and we need an energy literacy that includes a profound recognition that energy pervades all aspects of our lives, and is a key element of our social fabric. The future is fraught with peril if we don’t get it right.”
Dynamic transformation of the global energy landscape was underway during the three years the committee developed its report, with aggressive competition for international energy markets becoming a major factor.
Here are the 13 policy points:
-Canada must strive for collaborative energy leadership
All levels of government, industry, environmental groups and Aboriginal leaders need to come together to chart a course for responsible development and marketing of our energy resources.
-Advance nation-building through energy infrastructure
Modernize and expand electricity systems and oil and gas pipelines to connect regions and diversify export markets.
-Natural gas: a game-changing fuel
Natural gas is becoming a platform fuel for the Canadian economy and its expansion should be encouraged.
- Encourage efficiency, conservation and energy literacy
Efficiency and conservation represent the most important elements of Canada’s energy future. Every citizen must be part of the solution and start by becoming more energy literate.
-Frame a strong strategy for energy employment
Governments must work proactively to ensure recruitment and training meet the needs of the growing Canadian energy sector.
-Strengthen the foundation for energy innovation
Canada’s full potential depends on effectively designing and funding R&D to unlock innovation throughout the energy system.
-Pursue high-level environmental performance of non-renewable sources
Continuous improvement of the environmental footprint of non-renewable energy resources is required, including the minimization of energy sector activities on water, land and air.
- Hydropower superpower: energy of the past for the future
This reliable, low-emitting source of energy is a key priority for the country and every opportunity for its responsible expansion must be undertaken.
-Foster renewable fuels
Canada foster its substantial renewable energy resources, including massive supplies of water, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and marine energy.
- Regulatory reform
The committee supports the ongoing commitment of federal, provincial and territorial governments to streamline environmental reviews while ensuring rigorous environmental oversight, especially for major projects.
-Responsible Northern and Arctic energy exploration & development
The development of these resources may reshape the country’s energy landscape and has the potential to create tremendous economic and social benefits.
-Maintain strong support for Canada’s nuclear industry
Nuclear energy has an important role to play in Canada energy future.
-Speak for Canada
The federal government must fulfill a leadership role in clearly, accurately and forcefully communicating Canada’s energy story to the world.
"This is the write up about this report in FP: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/07/19/13-ways-to-make-canada-worlds-most-energy-productive-nation/?__lsa=3cc0a9fd ... "Maintain strong support for Canada’s nuclear industry:Nuclear energy has an important role to play in Canada energy future, especially as it employs 70,000.
“The committee also heard from witnesses who believe in the game-changing potential of nuclear fusion technology. Nuclear fusion is the mechanism that fuels the sun and the stars and may one day provide nearly unlimited source of energy,” the report notes. “The challenges are enormous, but progress has been made towards safely harnessing fusion energy for electricity generation. Allan Offenberger, professor emeritus of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta, told the committee that new laser technology may hold the key to making this goal a reality.”"

CNSC Allows Bruce A Unit 1 Restart

CNSC Allows Bruce A Unit 1 Restart: http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/mediacentre/releases/news_release.cfm?news_release_id=417 ..."This authorization will allow Bruce Power to restart the reactor and bring it up to 50% of full power in order to perform several safety tests under the oversight of the CNSC."

First nuclear power plants for settlements on the Moon & Mars

Cool! The first nuclear power plants for settlements on the Moon & Mars http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=222&content_id=CNBP_028086&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=ae015955-e0ac-4c43-a544-7e1bcd1206f4 ...research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society "he first nuclear power plant being considered for production of electricity for manned or unmanned bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets may really look like it came from outer space, according to a leader of the project who spoke here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
James E. Werner said that innovative fission technology for surface power applications is far different from the familiar terrestrial nuclear power stations, which sprawl over huge tracts of land and have large structures such as cooling towers.
“People would never recognize the fission power system as a nuclear power reactor,” said Werner. “The reactor itself may be about 1 ½ feet wide by 2 ½ feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers. A fission power system is a compact, reliable, safe system that may be critical to the establishment of outposts or habitats on other planets. Fission power technology can be applied on Earth’s Moon, on Mars, or wherever NASA sees the need for continuous power.”"

AECL, union reach agreement, union membership ratification scheduled on July 25

AECL, union reaches agreement, union membership ratification scheduled on July 25: http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/2012/07/19/aecl-union-reaches-agreement ..."Atomic Energy of Canada Limited has reached a tentative three-year deal with it's nuclear engineers and scientists averting a summer strike at Chalk River Laboratories.
The agreement between the corporation and the union, represented by the Chalk River Professional Employees Group and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, came about after a round of mediated negotiations ended last Friday.
The agreement will go before the union membership for ratification on July 25. Both sides said Thursday they were pleased to have reached a deal staving off a walkout that could have occurred earlier this week.
Since April, AECL has renewed six collective bargaining agreements with employees at Chalk River and the Whiteshell Laboratories located near Pinawa, Manitoba. Pat Quinn, AECL manager of site and communications, said he is pleased there will not be a disruption at the facility.
"It allows AECL to focus on its nuclear science and technology business," said Mr. Quinn.
The deal will implement salary increases of 1.75 per cent for each year retroactive to July 1, 2011. Terms also calls for improvements to overtime provisions and some benefits."

Point Lepreau restart may be ahead of schedule

Point Lepreau restart may be ahead of schedule: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/07/20/nb-point-lepreau-restart-627.html ...great to see some positive news: 'The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station’s refurbishment project is in the homestretch and is starting to hit some of its deadlines earlier than expected.
The refurbishment project is three years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget.
NB Power is now getting some positive reports about the refurbishment project’s restart timeline. However, the Crown corporation and the provincial government are refusing to talk about it publicly.
Point Lepreau is not scheduled to be running at full power until the end of September, but there have been signs for months that it could happen earlier."

A great and cool educational website/resource for students to learn about nuclear science and technology

What a great and cool educational website/resource for students to learn about nuclear science and technology: http://www.ne.doe.gov/students/Track_electra.html

Uprating a way of increasing nuclear power capacity

Uprating a way of increasing nuclear power capacity: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7130 ..."Currently, there are 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States. In 2011, these plants provided 786 billion kilowatthours of electricity, or nearly one-fifth of total generation. The electrical output of the nuclear power plant fleet can be increased either by constructing new plants or by 'uprating' operating plants. Uprating generally involves physically modifying the plant to increase its generating capacity. Since 1977, more than 6,500 megawatts-electric (MWe) of nuclear uprates have been approved, and most of these have already been implemented. Through July 10, 2012, these cumulative uprates are roughly the equivalent of constructing six new nuclear power plants."

Radiation risk from tests are worth diagnostic information

Radiation risk from tests are worth diagnostic information: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/fitness/radiation-risk-from-tests-are-worth-diagnostic-information/article_7bead379-43ee-5a45-8665-a1605f58885c.html#ixzz219jW10VS ...""First, do no harm" is a concept as relevant to modern medicine as it was to the ancient Greeks. Tasked with the well-being of those entrusted to their care, even the youngest medical student understands it is better to do nothing than take an action harmful to patients.
With the rapid advancement of medical technology, are we unintentionally causing harm to our patients? Advances in diagnostic medical imaging have been enormously beneficial to patient care. Illnesses that defied diagnosis in the past can be detected and treated at earlier stages, resulting in better treatment and outcomes for our patients."
"The risk of developing cancer from a CT scan is so small it has been hard to measure. Linking the words "cancer" and "radiation" together in a sentence is frightening, but combining these two words with "child" is even more terrifying for a parent. However, it is very important to place risk in perspective. Diagnostic tests such as CT scans are incredibly important and useful tools. Such tests can detect the causes of serious and potentially fatal conditions.
When used for the proper indications, the risk of death or disability from missing such important medical information dwarfs the small risk from medical radiation. It's important for a parent to understand the significant benefits of an examination in comparison to the small risk and be a partner with their physician in the care of their child."

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Nuclear power seen focus of next general election in Japan

Nuclear power seen focus of next general election in Japan: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/17/japan-nuclear-idINL4E8IH0K020120717 ..."The government is considering three options for its medium-term energy portfolio -- reduce nuclear power's role to zero as soon as possible, aim at a 15 percent share by 2030, and seek a 20-25 percent share by the same date.
The new energy mix, to be decided in August, will replace a scrapped 2010 programme that had sought to raise nuclear power's share to more than half of electricity needs by 2030 from about 30 percent before the March 2011 disaster.
The 15 percent solution -- which most experts expect the government to select -- would require all 50 of Japan's reactors, all but one of which are now idled for safety checks, to resume operations before gradually closing older units, an official at the government's National Strategy Unit told reporters on Friday."

Nuclear waste-burning reactor moves a step closer to reality

Nuclear waste-burning reactor moves a step closer to reality: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/09/nuclear-waste-burning-reactor# ... remarkable: Using nuclear waste, PRISM reactor could power UK for 500 years
Also see: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/using-nuclear-waste-prism-reactor-could-power-uk-for-500-years/3881

Uses of Uranium: medical isotopes

The first in a series of posts by AREVA on the uses for Uranium, this one on medical isotopes: http://kiggavik.ca/2012/07/17/arevas-proposed-kiggavik-mine-will-contribute-to-the-worlds-production-of-medical-isotopes/ ..."More than 40 million medical isotopes are used every year around the world, and many of the isotopes are produced right here in Canada. Each week In Canada alone, 30,000 nuclear diagnostic scans are performed, and there are about 300 therapeutic doses administered. Demand around the world is growing as the medical community seeks safe, non-invasive ways of diagnosing and treating serious diseases. This increased demand is causing medical facilities around the world to look for safe producers of uranium to be used in isotope production – that’s where AREVA comes in. Seventeen percent of the world’s uranium and about a third of the world’s medical isotopes are produced here in Canada. With 16 percent of the world’s uranium production, including over 4% from its Canadian assets, AREVA is dedicated to the safe and ethical production of uranium for potential uses like this, and the Kiggavik Project may help address some of the world’s growing demand for medical isotopes."

Monday, 16 July 2012

Nuclear Experts Hold Rally at the AECL's Chalk River Laboratories

In case you missed it: Nuclear Experts Hold Rally at the AECL's Chalk River Laboratories http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/nuclear-experts-hold-rally-at-the-aecls-chalk-river-laboratories-1678834.htm ..."With a July 17, 2012 strike deadline fast approaching, nuclear experts represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) held a news conference and staged an information picket today at Chalk River Laboratories to seek a fair settlement from their employer, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).
These engineers and scientists working at the Chalk River facility have been without a contract for more than a year. These specialists operate the Chalk River reactor, conduct nuclear research and development, support CANDU nuclear power reactors in Canada and throughout the world, produce medical isotopes, and manage nuclear waste. The parties are at an impasse over wage cuts and other concessions.
"The current negotiations will either steer the Laboratories towards a thriving future, or put them on the path to decommissioning, with serious economic and social consequences on Renfrew County", said PIPSC President Gary Corbett." 
And this is the latest news release from AECL: http://www.aecl.ca/NewsRoom/News/Press-2012/120713.htm "We are pleased to announce that with the assistance of a federal mediator, PIPSC-CRPEG and AECL reached a tentative agreement. This agreement will be taken to members of PIPSC-CRPEG for a ratification vote in the coming weeks."
And see this link for more background: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/07/09/ottawa-strike-engineers-nuclear-candu-chalk-river.html 

OPG pays out $26M for nuclear cost estimate

OPG pays out $26M for nuclear cost estimate: http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3593407 ..."Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has agreed to pay two prospective reactor builders $26 million to come up with an estimate on how much two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington Generating Station would cost, Energy Minister Chris Bentley told a Queen's Park committee Wednesday.
"They reached an agreement with them to prepare the various proposals and estimates, and although I am advised that the specific price between the two is commercially sensitive - they had negotiations with each - the ballpark total price for the two is less than $26 million," Bentley said in response to a question from New Democrat energy critic Peter Tabuns.
The two firms - SNC-Lavalin's now-striking Candu Energy Inc. and Westinghouse - have up to 14 months to deliver their cost estimates, which are expected to be at least $10 billion for two 1,000 megawatt reactors."... "Paying prospective builders for coming up with a cost estimate is normal practice for massive projects such as nuclear reactors, OPG spokesman Ted Gruetzner said in an e-mail.
"This is common in large projects like this as there is a recognition that firms will incur expenses in order to provide the level of detail we require," Gruetzner wrote.
The province's long-term energy plans have called for the new nuclear generation for years but the process was suspended in 2009 by then-energy minister George Smitherman, who said at the time the cost was simply too high.
Bentley later told the committee the decision to go ahead with the estimates does not mean Ontario is definitely going ahead with construction.
"It does not mean we're committed to new build, it does not mean we need the new generation," he said.
Outside the committee, Bentley said that even though the new reactors are still in the province's long-term plan, it's not certain the province needs the new power. If it's decided the extra megawatts are needed, the government will still have to decide if nuclear is the way to go and which firm to get to build it, he said.
"This is a new approach," different from the procurement process suspended in 2008, Bentley said."

Areva and Babcock & Wilcox are years into development of next generation reactors

Areva and Babcock & Wilcox are years into development of next generation reactors: http://www2.newsadvance.com/business/2012/jul/15/areva-bw-are-years-development-next-generation-rea-ar-2056280/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter too bad Canada is not in the mix..."Both Areva and Babcock & Wilcox are years into the development of the next-generation nuclear power plants, hoping to add to the crop of new reactors being built in the United States.
Lynchburg’s two nuclear-industry companies — which employ about 4,400 area residents — are vying for a Department of Energy public-private partnership to develop small modular reactors, or SMR.
Babcock & Wilcox is testing the design of its mPower reactor and Areva is partnering with Holtec International and The Shaw Group Inc. to work on the SMR-160.
Two companies will be awarded DOE grants estimated at $452 million over five years.
The SMR-160’s name is an apt descriptor of what it is: a small modular reactor capable of generating 160 megawatts of electricity. Holtec is the lead in the project, Shaw’s expertise comes from building two reactors currently under construction in the U.S. and Areva was brought in for its technology expertise, according to a Holtec news release.
The SMR-160 can be put on as little as five acres and, like other SMR designs, there is no limit to the number that can be installed at a site."

UK government announces liberated open-access policy

Remarkable, this should be done every where: U.K. government has announced plans to make all scientific journal articles on research founded by British taxpayers free: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/07/uk-research-funders-announce-liberated-open-access-policy.html ..."From April 2013, science papers must be made free to access within six months of publication if they come from work paid for by one of the United Kingdom’s seven government-funded grant agencies, the research councils, which together spend about £2.8 billion (US$4.4 billion) each year on research.
The policy, announced this morning by the agencies’ umbrella body Research Councils UK (RCUK), makes clear that researchers should shun science journals that don’t allow authors to follow this mandate.
Also this morning, the UK government formally welcomed the Finch report into open access (which it had commissioned). Its response makes clear that RCUK’s new policy is the driving force for change.
RCUK hasn’t said how it will sanction those who don’t comply. (Astrid Wissenberg, who chairs the RCUK Impact Group, tells Nature that it will be looking to push to “75% compliance over a number of years”). But if it does rigorously enforce the policy, that will mark a dramatic shift for scientists, publishers and universities — perhaps the most significant change on the ground since Britain’s science minister David Willetts began discussing how to improve access to research papers more than a year ago."
see also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jul/15/free-access-british-scientific-research?newsfeed=true

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Report on the Death of Evidence rally toda

Report on the Death of Evidence rally today: http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/115611-scientists-march-on-parliament-hill-to-protest-death-of-evidence "They chanted: No Science, No Evidence, No Truth, No Democracy."
Does 'death of evidence' warnings of Canadian scientists alarm you? http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/07/do-the-death-of-evidence-warnings-of-canadian-scientists-alarm-you.html ..."Some of the decisions that have distressed typically dispassionate scientists include:
-Scrapping the mandatory long-form census, which the journal Nature argued will lower the quality and raise the cost of information.
- Ending funding for the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Eureka, Nunavut, which has been tracking ozone depletion, air quality and climate change in the High Arctic since 2005.
-Cutting the departmental budgets of Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the National Research Council Canada, Statistics Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. · Closing the Experimental Lakes Area, a world-renowned research facility in northwestern Ontario.
- Deciding not to renew the national science adviser.
- Limiting access to federal government scientists, which some have called "muzzling" and which has drawn international attention
- Ending the National Roundtable on the Environment. Findlay says many in the scientific community suspect the federal government is deliberately thwarting their ability to gather evidence and bring facts forward during public debate.
For many, the sweeping changes contained in the Bill C-38 - on everything from the Fisheries Act to environmental assessments - pushed them to their breaking point."
And this is a video of the rally today: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Video+Death+Evidence+rally/6913158/story.html 
Another video of some of the speeches at the rally yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeBHlS8Yl_k&feature=youtu.be 

Candu Energy employees strike

Candu Energy employees strike: http://www.canada.com/business/fp/Candu+Energy+employees+strike/6906192/story.html
"About 800 nuclear scientists, engineers and technologists at Candu Energy Inc. went on strike Monday morning after negotiators failed to reach a contract before the strike deadline.
Candu is owned by Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, and its employees design, build and service nuclear reactors that supply nearly half of Ontario’s electricity and 16 per cent of Canada’s overall electricity requirements.
The company has operations in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Reactors designed by Candu supply more than 22,000 megawatts of power at sites around the world.
Candu says it does not operate any nuclear power plants so the strike action should have no impact on the day-to-day operations at the plants.
The Society of Professional Engineers and Associates, which represents the workers, said power plants will not shut down but there will a noticeable effect on operations.
“There’s not enough people to replace us, so work will definitely be impacted,” spokeswoman Michelle Duncan said.
The union has said the main sticking points in the labour dispute involved wages and seniority.
SPEA president Peter White said a key issue is what he calls the company’s desire to move away from nuclear industry standards and compensate its employees differently from other workers in the field.
He said a full strike threatens the future of Canada’s nuclear industry as it will almost certainly guarantee the loss of technological talent.
Senior engineers with years of expertise are choosing to leave the company, which could cause the design and service capabilities at Candu to decline, he said."

Monday, 9 July 2012

Anti-Nuclear Hysterics, not Melted Reactors to Blame for Fukushima Health Impacts

Not surprising!: Anti-Nuclear Hysterics, not Melted Reactors to Blame for Fukushima Health Impacts: http://thisweekinnuclear.com/?p=1473 "The health effects to Japan’s population were NOT from radiation, but from stress caused by the unfounded fear of future health effects. The responsibility for this lies squarely on anti-nuclear activists who relished in spouting fatalistic, exaggerated claims, and on an uninformed media who presented those claims as virtual facts while downplaying opposing views from true experts in the field."
See also: http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/91701/dr-kiyohiko-sakamoto-low-dose-radiation-used-cancer-treatment 'Dr. Sakamoto, a medical doctor (MD) and a PhD has been studying the effects of radiation experimentally since 1975 and medically since 1985. He started his career in Radiology in 1964. Based on what he has learned he made the following statement early in his presentation:
Based on my experience in treating many patients the radiation level near Fukushima is not a cancer risk."

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Science community to protest research cuts with funeral march

Science community to protest research cuts with funeral march: http://www.canada.com/technology/Science+community+protest+research+cuts+with+funeral+march/6902085/story.html#ixzz205WyhLg4 ..."A funeral procession — complete with a coffin, black-clad mourners and a scythe-wielding grim reaper — will make its way to Parliament Hill Tuesday as hundreds of scientists from across Canada rally in protest of federal science cuts.
Members of Canada's scientific community are staging the rally to mourn the "death of evidence" in what the rally's organizers say is the federal government's war on science.
Whatever values Canadians cleave to, they should be presented with evidence on the impacts of federal government policies and programs and be able to make informed decisions based on that information, said co-organizer Scott Findlay, associate professor of biology and former director the University of Ottawa's Institute of the Environment.
"The prevention of this evidence getting into the public domain, the consequence of that is that the public continues to be uninformed. And an informed public is the basis on which democracy depends," Findlay said.
"I think it's important for the public to understand that scientists are getting increasingly concerned about this. I'm hugely concerned."
The cuts, according to the organizers' media release, are being imposed on critical research programs in Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, Statistics Canada, through the closure of Experimental Lakes Area, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the First Nations Statistical Institute, and through the elimination of the National Science Adviser and National Round Table on Environment and Economy.
It would be easy to say that scientists are upset because the cuts are resulting job losses, but the issues are much more fundamental than that, Findlay said.
"Every Canadian must surely be of the view that, if you're going to make a decision, especially if you're a government making a decision, it should be based on evidence. Sound evidence. And it's important that all the evidence be presented," Findlay said.
"And science is the best method that we have for assembling and collecting the evidence and bringing it forward into the public domain, relatively untainted by political agendas and ideology."
There is growing concern in many quarters about what is being viewed as the government's excessive information control. Several organizations say they are concerned with what they call the silencing of Canada's federal scientists."
And this is the link to the Death of Evidence rally on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012: http://www.deathofevidence.ca/

Saskatchewan Seeking Nuclear Leadership

Saskatchewan Seeking Nuclear Leadership: http://www.saskatoonhomepage.ca/seeking-nuclear-leadership/itemid_21-dp1 it is great to see at least somewhere in Canada some positive development is happening in the field of nuclear! "The goal is to have Saskatchewan among the global leaders in nuclear research, development and training.
The Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation, which is funded by the Province of Saskatchewan, and is a not-for-profit subsidiary of the University of Saskatchewan, has issued a pilot call for research proposals.
CCNI spokesperson, Matthew Dalzell, says this initial call will fund a total of 500-thousand dollars for anywhere from five to 30 projects.
He explains this first call is a chance to check out the internal processes before launching full scale calls twice annually, with larger amounts of funding.
With these projects, a Saskatchewan-based researcher will be the lead researcher, but it is also encouraged to build networks of experts, so researchers can reach out to experts outside of the province as well.
The projects can focus on one of four areas: nuclear medicine, how to make and use materials using nuclear techniques, nuclear energy, or public engagement related to nuclear science, medicine or energy."

SNC-Lavalin nuclear engineers may strike on Monday

SNC-Lavalin nuclear engineers may strike on Monday: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/08/snclavalin-strike-idUSL2E8I84S320120708 ..."The union representing nuclear engineers at Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc said on Sunday the workers could go on strike Monday unless the sides settle a contract dispute.
If the workers go on strike, the union said it could delay several ongoing nuclear projects in Canada and elsewhere around the world.
The union already had 144 members on strike and another 700 could go walk off the job Monday morning unless the sides can agree on a contract, Michael Ivanco, a senior scientist and vice president of the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates (SPEA), told Reuters.
Officials at the company were not immediately available for comment.
Ivanco said the workers have been without a contract since Jan. 1, 2011 and the main sticking points were over compensation, pensions and seniority rights.
The engineers became employees of SNC-Lavalin in October 2011 when Canada's federal government sold off the commercial business of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), which designed the CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactor, to a unit of SNC.
All of the reactors in Canada are CANDU reactors."
 The news even made it in huffingtonpost: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/08/candu-energy-inc-strike_n_1

Nordion International Provides Update on AECL MAPLE Arbitration

Nordion International Provides Update on AECL MAPLE Arbitration: http://www.biospace.com/News/nordion-international-provides-update-on-aecl/265606 ..."Nordion Inc. (TSX: NDN) (NYSE: NDZ), a leading provider of products and services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, today released an update to the ongoing arbitration process with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) relating to the MAPLE facilities. The MAPLE facilities are the nuclear reactors and processing facility that were being constructed to serve as the Company's source of long-term medical isotope supply.
Nordion has been informed by the arbitration tribunal that, subject to agreement by Nordion and AECL, the tribunal proposes to render a decision in September 2012. Nordion will provide an update as to the specific date of the decision as soon as it is confirmed.
Nordion served AECL with a notice of arbitration proceedings on July 8, 2008, after AECL and the Government of Canada unilaterally announced their intent to discontinue development work on the MAPLE facilities. The arbitration seeks to compel AECL to fulfil its contractual obligations to Nordion to complete the MAPLE facilities and, in the alternative and in addition to such order, to pay significant monetary damages. Hearings in the arbitration were completed at the end of May 2012. "

Is SNC-Lavalin Bending Rules to Avoid Paying Taxes

Is SNC-Lavalin Bending Rules to Avoid Paying Taxes? http://www.exchangemagazine.com/morningpost/2012/week27/Friday/12070607.htm ..."The Society of Professional Engineers and Associate (SPEA) is holding an information picket this morning at the Toronto offices of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to urge them and the Ontario Ministry of Finance to investigate the inappropriate use of contractors at SNC-Lavalin's newly acquired subsidiary, Candu Energy Inc. to avoid paying taxes and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums.
Both companies and individuals pay considerably less in taxes if they label their relationship as a "contractor" relationship, rather than an "employment" one. The company or the individual in a contractor relationship does not pay CPP, EI and WSIB premiums.
"We understand why individuals and companies are tempted to mislabel their relationship so as to minimize taxes," said Peter White President of SPEA. "However we are troubled why the CRA does not take a more active role in combating this abuse, the result of which is lower tax revenue for our governments, which results in higher taxes for the rest of us."
Since the federal government announced the sale of the commercial division of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to SNC-Lavalin in June of 2011, scientific and technical staff has been reduced by approximately 25%. The number of contractors has more than tripled since the October 2011 sale closed.
According to White, "Some of the contractors pre-date SNC-Lavalin's acquisition of AECL. They have been around for three, four or more years. The vast majority of these contractors and the more recent hires easily meet the CRA's definition of employees.""

Thursday, 5 July 2012

NRC staff enraged by gift cards

NRC staff enraged by gift cards: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/nrc-staff-enraged-by-gift-cards-161407515.html ..."Have a doughnut on your way out the door. That is the message several dozen employees of the National Research Council took away June 29 as the president of the agency issued gift cards for a coffee and a doughnut to all employees, including 65 who are being laid off this month.
"Thank you for the contribution you have made in helping NRC successfully work through our massive transformation," read the letter from NRC president John McDougall. "To celebrate our success in gaining government support, here is a token of appreciation: have a coffee and a doughnut on me."
A $3 gift card to Tim Hortons accompanied each letter to more than 4,000 NRC employees. It cost taxpayers more than $12,000.
Some of the employees being laid off received the gift card on their last day of work. Most others had their last day July 2.
"Talk about a kick in the teeth," said one NRC employee, who asked not to be identified. The employee, who is not losing their job, said the emotion in the NRC offices as the letters were received ranged from fury to tears.
"It was awful."".... "For more than a year, the NRC has been changing the research it does to accommodate a federal government request to focus mostly on commercially viable research. The recent budget specifically plans to refocus the NRC toward "research that helps Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services.""
For those of you who wish to read more about the recent changes at NRC here are a couple of good reads: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leadership/john-mcdougall-hungry-for-better-return-on-research/article600382/ "So Mr. McDougall is moving the venerable 94-year-old institution away from pure “curiosity research” toward work on a cluster of key scientific challenges that have the potential to drive Canada’s economy. So far, the short list of four flagship projects, or “big ideas,” includes research into higher-output wheat strains, printable electronics, composite materials made from biomass and CO2-ingesting algae."
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/03/06/technology-goodyear-national-research-council.html "Canada's national government research and development agency is being transformed and "refocused" into a service that provides solutions for businesses, Canada's Minister of State for Science and Technology announced Tuesday. Gary Goodyear says he envisions the National Research Council becoming a "concierge" service that offers a single phone number to connect businesses to all their research and development needs, as recommended in a report by an expert panel last fall.
"It will be hopefully a one-stop, 1-800, 'I have a solution for your business problem,'" Goodyear said Tuesday, following a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa.
"It will be the powerhouse that takes the ideas from wherever they come from… and literally pushes those ideas into the marketplace through our business communities, as well as respond to the needs of the business community by providing, for example, research capacity and solutions." The panel that recommended changes to the NRC, led by Tom Jenkins, executive chairman and chief strategy officer of Waterloo, Ont.-based Open Text, was asked to address a persistent problem — Canada spends more than most countries to help businesses create new products. But it hasn't been paying off, and the participation of Canadian businesses in research and development is still lagging.
The National Research Council, founded in 1916, is a government agency dedicated to research and development through more than 20 institutes and national programs specialized in areas ranging from plant biotechnology to aerospace to fuel cells. It has more than 4,000 staff across Canada.
Goodyear acknowledged that originally, the NRC was developed to do basic research. But he said that was before Canada developed research strength at its universities."
And this is the link to a recent speech he gave at the 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show where he outlines his vision of steering the council away from basic science: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb4bWVBX47s&feature=player_embedded
Also see: http://www.scansite.ca/news/2011/07/nrc_narrows_the_door_for_smes.html "Back issues of Research Money newsletter — which unfortunately you can’t read unless you pay them quite a bit to subscribe — contain restructuring proposals by people who have credentials and experience to spare. These ideas and more have been given no hearing. Long-standing NRC advisory boards have not been called to meet. Consultation, if it deserves such a name, has been with very few and those unrecognized. The tone of the March memo is very much about doing it his way or taking the Queensway. “Those who are still hesitant will need our help to develop their courage and conviction,” he writes. “We require the right attitude and the right behaviour.”
Mr. McDougall stands as high with this government as any conservative Albertan has a right to. It’s reasonable to assume that whatever stamp he wants to put on NRC will stick. If the strategy looks to be succeeding it will probably crown centennial celebrations for the 95-year-old Council.
But there are considerable reservations about the predictable consequences of this change. The first is that big projects attract big players and big players tend to shoulder out smaller fry. So the outlook for SMEs that want access to NRC’s expertise is not bright. Already smaller companies are finding NRC’s fee schedule and rules of engagement onerous. Fees starting at $200 an hour escalate for ‘overtime’. Royalty rates for IP reach 48% of licensee profits. One recent applicant wanted to take IP that is resting on a shelf unused at NRC and adapt it for a market opportunity the company had identified. The company would have to do further tests to make sure the technology would work in the intended application. NRC’s response was to ask for a $25,000 fee on signing an agreement, with royalties based on sales (not profits as previously) and with minimum annual payments starting at $10,000 in Year 3 and escalating thereafter.
This is of critical moment because NRC has always been the essential provider of science and tech services to small business in Canada. NRC has expertise and equipment far beyond the resources of small companies."
While there may have been issues that needed to be addressed at NRC, the concern is whether steering it away from basic science is the right move, some questions that come to mind are: 1. shouldn't the federal government fund the science that benefits all of people equally, the type of science (basic science often requires national facilities) that is impossible to perform by universities alone? 2. should the scientists be also salespersons for partnerships with private companies? 3. wouldn't attracting private sector to NRC flagship programs mean selective corporate welfare (selective companies get taxpayer support)? 4. wouldn't lack of funding/support for basic science mean that the issue of brain drain will even become worse? 5. how could one plan innovation? how often in the history of science and technology major scientific discoveries were made entirely by accident and motivated by general curiosity? wouldn't it be better to invest in a diverse manner across many areas to ensure that there will some substantial gain when one of them hits the jackpot? 6. Is always the return on research defined by the money it makes? what about training HQP and the impact that has throughout the society? 7. wouldn't working only on a handful of programs be shortsighted? what if there are major discoveries in these areas or others that would mean it is time to work on something else? 8. shouldn't government funded science be independent from business? shouldn't it be that the science that leads the business? feel free to post more questions as they come to mind or answers to any of these...