January 16, 2002
OTTAWA · Herb Dhaliwal, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, said yesterday a review is underway to determine whether Canadian taxpayers should keep subsidizing the CANDU reactor sales program to the tune of $100-million a year. Mr. Dhaliwal, only hours after taking over the portfolio, said a report will soon be presented to Cabinet to determine whether there are sufficient prospects for future sales of the reactor.
Canada has been a world leader in developing the CANDU nuclear reactor, he said, but Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) has not made a sale since two reactors were purchased by China in 1996. So a long-term review of the program will determine whether there is reason to terminate taxpayer subsidies, Mr. Dhaliwal, who replaces Ralph Goodale in the portfolio, said in an interview. “That’s one of the options we need to look at. “That’s what the review’s all about – to say, ‘What is the future of our CANDU reactor and atomic energy?’ Because if we’re not making any sales and there’s no potential, should we continue to invest in those areas or not?”
There are CANDU reactors in operation in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and overseas sales have been made to countries such as China and South Korea. AECL, a 40-year-old Crown corporation that employs 3,500 in Canada and around the world, calls itself the third- largest global supplier of nuclear energy systems. The company has received taxpayer subsidies totalling at least $5-billion over its lifespan. Officials at AECL refused to comment.