Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ontario gets two nuclear-energy options

Ontario gets two nuclear-energy options: Let's see whether Candu Inc (the former AECL) can do it this time! "Two nuclear companies are submitting competing bids to sell Ontario two reactors as the province struggles to decide how best to provide cheap, clean, reliable power over the next 20 years.
Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC and Mississauga-based Candu Energy Inc. are to provide their proposals Friday outlining their designs, prices and the economic benefits that would flow if they won a contract that would top $10-billion. Ontario Power Generation had set a June 30 deadline for the proposals."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

AECL restructuring update

This is a good summary of what went on at industry day and next steps in restructuring AECL: related to nru reactor: "operations post 2016 is pending government decision on intent to seek relicensing" there is not much time left, they need to make up their mind!!!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mandating Scientific Discovery Never Works

Someone needs to tell this loud and clear to the government and NRC: Mandating Scientific Discovery Never Works: " You would think that in the 21st century the clear benefits of peer-reviewed, curiosity-driven scientific research in the developed world would be so clear that we wouldn’t need to proactively work to protect the integrity of the scientific process from control by partisan politicians. As the landmark 2007 National Academy of Sciences Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm described, for example, perhaps 50 percent of the current GDP in industrialized countries is a product of fundamental research performed a generation ago.
Yet, recent developments in both Canada and the United States chillingly suggest that legislators still don’t get it. You can foster scientific discovery by providing an environment for the best and brightest to most effectively exploit their talents to address those questions that seem most compelling to those most knowledgeable in their fields. But you can’t legislate it."

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment

A good read (cutting off the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre by NRC should also be added to the list thought): The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment: "This is a brief chronology of the current Conservative Canadian government’s long campaign to undermine evidence-based scientific, environmental and technical decision-making. It is a government that is beholden to big business, particularly big oil, and that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that fundamentally doesn’t believe in science. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting the environment."

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The European Spallation Source (ESS) call for expression of interest

If you look at Canada and NRU and think the future of neutron scattering is bleak here, well this is not the case elsewhere around the world, an example is ESS which will be the brightest neutron source in the world once completed: "The European Spallation Source (ESS) is to be built in the spirit of cooperation, sourcing the knowledge of Europe’s leading experts and institutions. In that spirit, all interested parties are invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for in-kind contributions (IKC) to the construction.
The European Spallation Source is preparing to move into the Construction Phase and begining the process of formally agreeing with partners for contributions to the construction phase. The first step in this process is identifying contributors to become In-kind partners. ESS invites all interested parties, with relevant experience and expertise, to indicate their interest in participating."

More on medical isotope production without a research reactor

More on medical isotope production without a research reactor: Canadian Solution to Medical-Isotope Crisis Demonstrates that Cities Could Produce their own Medical Isotopes: "With Canadian-developed tools and technology, a national team led by TRIUMF has reached a crucial milestone at the BC Cancer Agency in developing and deploying alternatives for supplying key medical isotopes. The team used a medical cyclotron that was designed and manufactured by Advanced Cyclotron Systems, Inc. (ACSI) of Richmond, BC, and successfully achieved large-scale production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), sufficient for a metropolitan area.
The team announced the successful ramp-up of its technology to regularly produce enough of the critical Tc-99m isotope to supply an urban area the size of Vancouver. This achievement eliminates the need for nuclear reactors to produce isotopes, especially those that use weapons-grade uranium, which has been the traditional approach.
Paul Schaffer, head of TRIUMF's Nuclear Medicine Division and principal investigator for the project, said, "This achievement is a crucial step on the road to meeting Canada's isotope needs after the NRU ceases production in 2016. This effort required teamwork and dedication from many people." In addition to TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, the team includes experts at the BC Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), and Lawson Health Research Institute.
Each year, tens of millions of medical procedures are conducted around the world with Tc-99m, an isotope used in radiopharmaceuticals for imaging disease in the heart, bones, and elsewhere in the body. A small number of ageing reactors account for most of the global capacity for isotope production; one of them is the AECL National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. In the past few years, these reactors have suffered maintenance and repair outages, threatening the global supply of medical isotopes."

Also see:

UK looks to nuclear manufacturing future

In other parts of the world than Canada there is good news for nuclear: UK looks to nuclear manufacturing future: "Work has begun on two collaborative research programs to develop new forging and casting techniques for nuclear components, while UK manufacturers are invited to apply for funding to help them compete in the nuclear industry."

Friday, 14 June 2013

Medical Isotopes latest

Medical Isotopes latest: "Access to medical isotopes has become increasingly difficult, especially in the wake of problems at an aging nuclear facility in Ontario. But as Ryan Sang reports, a scientific team here in BC has now reached a key milestone in its effort to find a solution."

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Restructuring of AECL's Nuclear Laboratories - Industry Day

Do you want to own a piece of AECL, here is yiour chance: Restructuring of AECL's Nuclear Laboratories - Industry Day:
"This notice is for the purpose of notifying industry of an
upcoming Industry Day engagement session to discuss the
procurement for the management and operation of Atomic Energy of
Canada Limited's (AECL's) Nuclear Laboratories. Responding to
this notice is not a prerequisite to participating in any future
solicitation(s) in this regard.
Canada is expected to issue a comprehensive, competitive,
procurement process for the management and operation of AECL's
Nuclear Laboratories pursuant to a Government-owned,
Contractor-operated (GoCo) model.
The Industry Engagement Session will be held on June 20th, 2013
in Ottawa. Preregister by June 17th, 2013.
An Industry Day is planned for June 20, 2013 and preregistration
by June 17, 2013 must be arranged through the designated PWGSC
Contracting Officer below. Canada is seeking to engage with
Industry early, and at certain stages in the procurement
process, in order to solicit industry feedback on the business
requirements and related procurement strategy.
On February 28, 2013, the Minister of Natural Resources
announced that the Government would engage in a competitive
procurement process to restructure the management and operation
of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Nuclear Laboratories and
that an information session for industry would 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
This competitive procurement process will follow government best
practices in engagement, oversight, transparency and due
diligence, including the use of third-party advisors.
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 Nuclear 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 announcement can be found here:
Industry will be engaged in a multi-phased consultative process
as a follow on to the Request for Expression of Interest that
concluded in April 2012. Further consultations are expected
throughout the procurement process.
The purpose of this consultation will be to engage Industry to
present an overview of the expected procurement strategy for the
future solicitation(s) for the restructuring of Atomic Energy of
Canada Limited's Nuclear Laboratories, including an overview of
the procurement process and timelines, and to give Industry an
opportunity to comment. Suppliers interested in this process
are encouraged to participate in this engagement process;
however it is not mandatory to do so. Not attending the
Industry Day will not preclude an interested participant from
participating in any future solicitation(s) in this regard.
All substantive and non-proprietary questions and answers
discussed during this engagement will be summarized and made
available to all suppliers participating in the Industry
Consultation Process.
The Industry Engagement Session will be held on June 20th, 2013.
Participants may attend Industry Day either in person or by web
casting. Registration for Industry Day is limited to a maximum
of three in-person representatives from each Supplier; there is
no limit on the number of participants attending by web cast.
Registration for each participant, both in-person and web cast
participants, is required by June 17th, and only those who have
preregistered may attend.
Registration of each participant is to be submitted in writing
or electronically to the Contracting Authority identified below
indicating their intention to attend the Industry Day either in
person or by teleconference and indicating their language of
choice for the presentation. Any documents distributed at the
Industry Day will be provided in both official languages.
The lndustry Day will be a full day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
and held at a downtown Ottawa location; details will be provided
in future correspondence to those preregistered.
This Industry Consultation process is not a bid solicitation and
a contract will not result from this Industry Day notice. Any
feedback received by Canada in response to this Industry
Consultation process may or may not be used by Canada in the
development of future competitive solicitation(s) and does not
create any obligation for Canada legally or otherwise, to accept
any suggestions received.
Suppliers are encouraged to continue to monitor the Government
Electronic Tendering Services (GETS) for further information on
the future solicitation(s) for the restructuring of Atomic
Energy of Canada Limited's (AECL's) Nuclear Laboratories.
All enquiries and other communications related to this Industry
Consultation process must be directed exclusively to the
Contracting Authority."

AECL to cost $236M more than expected this year

AECL to cost $236M more than expected this year: "A new report from the parliamentary budget officer shows Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. continues to be a drain on the public purse.
The parliamentary budget officer's latest analysis of the government's spending estimates shows the Crown corporation will cost the public purse an additional $236 million this year, bringing the total to $362 million for 2013-14.
The additional money is for AECL's research and development program.
The federal budget watchdog says although Ottawa's support for the troubled nuclear agency has decreased by 60 per cent over the last four years, the booked savings in terms of direct support for operations is misleading.
At the same time, AECL's losses have ballooned: from $300 million in 2009-10 to $3 billion over the first three quarters of 2012-13.
"As a wholly owned Crown corporation, the government of Canada is ultimately responsible for AECL's liabilities," the PBO points out.
The government is in the midst of restructuring AECL and decommissioning some of its facilities. It sold the agency's sales and service division two years ago to the SNC-Lavalin Group for $15 million, and is seeking private contractors to clean up nuclear waste and operate the Chalk River facility, which produces medical isotopes."

...and here the story at macleans:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

CAUT launches campaign to overhaul federal science policy

CAUT launches campaign to overhaul federal science policy: "CAUT is calling for an overhaul of the federal government’s science policy and funding for research in Canada, following widespread concerns over recent research and science-related decisions.
“Science in Canada is at a tipping point,” said James Turk, executive director of CAUT. “From the muzzling of government scientists to the serious underfunding of basic research at our universities and colleges, the federal government is making dumb choices that will have serious consequences for all Canadians.”
In response to a growing outcry from researchers and academics, CAUT launched a major national campaign April 25, “Get Science Right”, to highlight the negative impact of the government’s approach to science, to propose a new direction, and to encourage Canadians to take action to protect scientific integrity.
“In the last federal budget, the government didn’t provide a single cent in new funding for basic science — the research that is the foundation for real innovation,” Turk said. “This will mean that at university campuses across the country valuable scientific research will not be funded, many current projects will run out of money and labs will be closed.”
Over the past few years, base funding for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has fallen by 10.1 per cent in real dollar terms. For the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the decline is pegged at 6.4 per cent and for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, at 7.5 per cent.
“The government cuts means less money for basic research,” said Turk. “But the policies of the councils themselves have made this bad situation worse as they, under directives from the federal government, devote more of their diminishing funds to fettered research.”
In its 2013–2014 report on plans and priorities, NSERC indicated it had cut its spending on bursaries and scholarships by 21 per cent since 2010–2011, and its spending on “advancement of knowledge” by more than 12 per cent, while it increased its spending for “research partnerships” by 23 per cent.
As part of the federal government’s reorientation of science and research priorities, Canada’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear announced last year that he envisioned the National Research Council becoming a “concierge” service offering one contact phone number for coordination of industry research and development needs. The recent federal budget allocated $121 million — three times the amount of new money allocated to the three granting councils combined — to implement the minister’s vision for the NRC.
CAUT’s campaign is calling on the government to reinvest in basic research, to make the research funding agencies arm’s length, and to establish a Parliamentary Science Officer to provide legislators with independent and non-partisan advice.
“Canada’s university and college researchers and scientists are saying enough is enough,” Turk said. “It’s time to stop making wrong choices, and start making right ones. We owe it to all Canadians to get science right.” "

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Science Cuts And Muzzling In Canada: How Conservatives Reshaped A Discipline

Science Cuts And Muzzling In Canada: How Conservatives Reshaped A Discipline: "The often antagonistic relationship between the governing Conservatives and Canada’s scientific community turned acrimonious soon after the Tories won a minority government in 2006 and made the key decision later that year to marginalize the Office of the National Science Advisor.
The office, created in 2004 by the Liberal government of Paul Martin and led by Arthur Carty, was intended to provide independent expert advice to the prime minister on matters of national policy related to science, ranging from nanotechnology, high energy particle physics and ocean technologies to climate change and the environment.
Carty, who did not wish to be interviewed for this story, was well suited for the role. He had served 10 years as president of the National Research Council and 27 years in the chemistry department at University of Waterloo.
“It was an exciting experience to be there because, for the first two years, we were actually advising the prime minister,” said Paul Dufour, former interim executive director of the office.
When the Tories came to power under Stephen Harper, the office, which cost about $1.5 million a year to operate, was shuffled out of the Privy Council Office – the department responsible for providing advice to the prime minister – and folded into Industry Canada.
"[That] was where things kind of started to devolve instead of evolve,” Dufour said.
Soon after the election, the Tories signalled that significant changes would be made in areas where science and policy intersected, beginning with the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding agreement on reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, which the Liberals had signed in 1997. The Tories proceeded to cut funding for several climate-change programs, including the One Tonne Challenge, a $45-million Liberal program that encouraged Canadians to reduce emissions. The Tories would eventually withdraw Canada from the Kyoto accord.
The government also went to work on a new national science and technology strategy with little input from the national science adviser’s office, Dufour said.
Announced by Harper in 2007, the strategy, called “Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage,” marked a major shift away from scientific goals to economic and labour-market priorities. The strategy established three priorities for science in Canada: to make the country a magnet for skilled people; to translate knowledge into commercial applications to generate wealth; and to lead developments that generate health, environmental, societal, and economic benefits.
Then, in early in 2008, Harper announced the elimination of the Office of the National Science Advisor. At the time, the prime minister described Carty as “an eminent Canadian who voluntarily took his retirement,” according to a transcript of the House of Commons debates.
Carty told a much different story when he appeared a month later before the standing committee on industry, science and technology, where he was called to testify about his tenure.
“I want to make it unambiguously clear that I conveyed my intention to retire from the public service only after I had been informed that the office was being closed,” he told MPs.
Conservatives on the committee grilled Carty on his expense claims but asked few questions about his tenure.
“It was pretty nasty,” said Dufour, who attended the committee meeting. “It was pretty ugly, and it got very political, very quickly.”
The elimination of Carty’s office marked the beginning of what critics describe as a systematic reshaping of scientific inquiry and research in this country by way of budget cuts, censorship, message control and intimidation.
Many believe these changes are being driven by ideology and the federal government’s pursuit of economic growth without regard for environmental consequences."