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Building CANDU in Ontario Would Send Powerful Signal

Building CANDU in Ontario Would Send Powerful Signal

by Kevin Petersen, UOIT

“To win internationally we have to win domestically”

Patrick LamarreThe need for collaborative efforts between the Canadian nuclear industry, its partners and all levels of government is needed to encourage growth and development in the Canadian Nuclear industry, an industry expert told local business and industry representatives as well as government representatives including Durham MPP John O’Toole, Pickering Scarborough MPP Tracy MacCharles, Regional Chair Roger Anderson, Mayors David Ryan, Pickering, Steve Parish, Ajax, Pat Perkins, Whitby, Adrian Foster, Clarington and Deputy Mayor City of Oshawa, Nester Pidwerbecki.

Patrick Lamarre, Executive Vice-President of SNC-Lavalin Incorporated, spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Durham Economic Prosperity Conference Committee, Organization of CANDU Industries, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance on Wednesday November 16th on Nuclear New Build and why we need a home grown solution.

Mr. Lamarre highlighted the acquisition of the commercial reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. by SNC-Lavalin in October 2011. Notable in the acquisition was the preservation of jobs and stabilization within the Canadian nuclear industry, with opportunity on the part of SNC-Lavalin for future growth and development utilizing existing resources. Key to the acquisition was commitment on the part of both federal and provincial governments to act as partners in the continued development of the Canadian nuclear industry. Bringing new economic growth to Ontario and advancing CANDU technology internationally is critical. “Economic growth is stagnating [in Ontario]…We need a catalyst to get the manufacturing sector going again,” he stated, adding, “Ontario can not maintain its standard of living if we lose this sector.”

SNC-Lavalin is a significant player in the nuclear industry on a global scale. With a presence in over 100 countries and employing over 25,000 people world-wide, as Lamarre noted, “we are nearing the size of the largest engineering firms in the world.” With this recent addition to its portfolio, SNC-Lavalin added to an already significant presence in Ontario, employing approximately 6,500 people in the province, and purchasing $3.5 billion worth of goods in Ontario since 2006.

Mr. Lamarre spoke of the importance of the SNC-Lavalin business model, which focuses on the creation of world class products for both local and international consumption. He also highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship, noting the rising demand for energy with increased pressure for diversified energy production which includes hydro, coal, gas, nuclear, as well as wind and solar where possible. “SNC-Lavalin is directly involved in projects for each of those energy sources and supports all those [energy] initiatives,” Lamarre noted, with increased demand representing “a remarkable opportunity for the Canadian nuclear industry to sell the CANDU product through leveraging its unique features.”

Mr. Lamarre noted the three-pronged business model used by SNC-Lavalin: new builds (both domestically and internationally); servicing of existing reactors; and life extension (the refitting of aging systems to extend reactor life). Mr. Lamarre identified further advantages of the business model used, including the use of natural over enriched uranium, allowing for lower reactor temperature and stability; this further increases efficiency of the process, decreasing the need for reactor shutdown and maintenance as well as the potential to use recycled recovered uranium in CANDU reactors no longer usable in the light water reactor systems.

Aside from the benefits to SNC-Lavalin, Mr. Lamarre also noted the potential benefits for subsidiary businesses associated with the Canadian nuclear industry, as well as other small business within operating regions. Expansion and increased investment represent an opportunity for growth and development in a time where economies around the globe are experiencing retraction. Mr. Lamarre identified the potential benefit to Ontario, an area which has recently experienced significant job loss. He further identified the benefits of expansion of two reactors at Darlington, with benefits including: competitive pricing against international standards; reliable, base load electricity for diversified use; use of proven and localized natural uranium fuel as a safe and proven product which meets international standards; high returns for the export of CANDU reactors outside Ontario; and stabilization of Ontario’s manufacturing sector and expansion of a ‘high value added’ industry in Ontario.

Mr. Lamarre noted that to win internationally we have to win domestically and the decision to build CANDU in Ontario would send a powerful signal to the global nuclear marketplace that Ontario has a leading energy-generating manufacturing technology. Mr. Lamarre said that support of Durham Region is essential to CANDU and the future of the industry in Ontario and Canada and that we all need to be ambassadors for this technology.

Mr. Lamarre finished by identifying the need for collaborative efforts between the Canadian nuclear industry, its partners and all levels of government in encouraging growth and development in the industry. Mr. Lamarre identifying the potential of the creation a ‘nuclear cluster’ in southern Ontario, incorporating existing nuclear industries and offering opportunities for future expansion.

A clearly defined national nuclear energy strategy is supported by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.


About the author: Kevin Petersen is a student of Public Policy at the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa.