Globe and Mail
By Shawn McCarthy
Canada's high-profile efforts to market Candu nuclear reactors globally could suffer as a result of Ontario Hydro's decision to shut down seven of its Candus for an overhaul.
Federally owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which designs and builds the Candus, is due to submit a proposal next month in a competition to sell two or more of its workhorse Candu 6 reactors to Turkey.
It is also pursuing deals in China, South Korea and Romania, which already own Candus, and has targeted Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines as potential customers.
On several trade missions abroad, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has lobbied world leaders, particularly in China and Korea, on behalf of the technology which he touts as safe, efficient and reliable.
Gary Kugler, AECL's vice-president of commercial operations, said yesterday that Ontario Hydro's problems will complicate the Canadian marketing pitch.
"This is not welcome news," Mr. Kugler said from his Mississauga, Ont., office.
"We do understand that the finding of their internal assessment is that it is largely a management and work-culture problem and not a technology problem. In fact, they find that the Candu technology is basically sound and that is what we are focusing on."
Still, he said, AECL officials will have to reassure potential clients that the problems that led to the shutdown aren't typical of the Candu reactors.
"We will have to work with our clients, no doubt, to put this in the right perspective," he said.
"We have good experience from many of our offshore clients that have been operating Candu reactors for up to 15 years. Of course, this technology does require a lot of vigilance, a lot of attention to performance and maintenance of the reactors."
Ontario Hydro's past maintenance problems with the Candu, which have forced the utility to shut down reactors for various periods of time, is clearly hurting the international reputation of the Canadian technology.
Nuclear plants are rated internationally for their reliability. A rating of 80 per cent -- meaning operating 80 per cent of the time at full capacity -- is considered good.
Ontario Hydro's reactors operated at above 80 per cent for years, but recently, that performance has fallen off.
A spokeswoman for International Trade Minister Sergio Marchi said the government will continue to promote the Candu abroad.
"We remain confident that it is a sound piece of technology and it is the number one reactor in the world," said Leslie Swartman, Mr. Marchi's press secretary.
"If our international partners do show concern, they can look at the Ontario Hydro report which shows that it was a management problem which caused the problems."
Canada's Candu sales have often been controversial. Proponents say they bring billions of dollars in benefits to about 150 suppliers and their workers right across Canada.
Critics say the federal government has poured billions of dollars in subsidies into the industry and that sales are often made to countries with authoritarian governments. The federal government waived its own environmental assessment rules last November when it sold two reactors to China, ignoring consultants' warnings about the need for further studies.
Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, said Ontario Hydro's problems should demonstrate the fallacy of selling the Candu reactors to less stable, less democratic, or less economically advanced countries.
"Here you have people [at Ontario Hydro] who are the best-placed in the world to understand and maintain the Candu and they can barely do it," Mr. Edwards said. "How do we expect these other countries to be able to run these plants safely?"
He said Mr. Chrétien has been guilty of misleading advertising when he plugs the Candu as low-cost and risk-free.
Mr. Edwards said it was only as a result of persistent and aggressive work by citizens' groups, mainly focused on Ontario Hydro's Pickering plant, that the federal nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Control Board, applied pressure on the giant utility to clean up its act.
In fact, he said, similar problems involving poor maintenance and sloppy monitoring procedures exist at Quebec Hydro's Gentilly nuclear plant and New Brunswick's Point Lepreau. But he noted that in the absence of public outcry, the federal regulator has failed to apply the same pressure it exerted on Ontario Hydro.
The AECB had issued several "wake-up calls" to Ontario Hydro to improve the management of its nuclear facilities.
Last December, it produced a scathing report on the utility's nuclear operations and gave the troubled Pickering station a six-month operating licence, instead of the usual two-year term.
In January, Hydro chief executive Allan Kupcis brought in the seven U.S. nuclear experts, headed by Carl Andognini, to take over the utility's nuclear operations and report to the board on the division's problems. Mr. Kupcis resigned Tuesday, taking responsibility for the unit's management troubles.
AECB spokesman Hugh Spence said that, despite Ontario Hydro's problems, the plants never fell below acceptable safety standards. "We had no reason not to licence them," he said. "There were no impediments to licencing the plants from the point of view of the basic requirement of safety."
Still, he said the decision by the Ontario Hydro board to shut down the seven plants was the direct result of the AEC board's pressure.
David MacInnis, spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale, said the government has confidence in AECB's supervision.
"AECB has been doing its job -- there's no doubt about that," Mr. MacInnis said. "They issued the wake-up call and that's why Hydro had to act as it did."
Globe and Mail
ONTARIO Hydro dropped a nuclear bomb on Tuesday when it announced that over one-third of its atomic reactors would be shut down and taken out of service indefinitely, perhaps even permanently. The power utility's president and chief executive officer, Allan Kupcis, taking responsibility for a state of affairs that could cost Hydro $8-billion, and which a team of outside consultants blamed on endemic problems with the corporation's management culture, resigned. The largest power utility in North America looks a little like the Titanic today: unsinkable, and sinking.
What caused this? Mistakes at the design stage? Pilot error?
There are a number of possible culprits. First of all, there is nuclear energy itself, in the guise of the Candu nuclear reactor. Ontario has 20 reactors, and the rule of thumb is that they generate about 65 per cent of the province's electricity. In theory. The reality is that the nuclear plants, hobbled by defects that have been growing like cancerous weeds, have been running at below capacity of late. These days, nuclear supplies something closer to 54 per cent of the province's needs, a proportion that is about to fall rather dramatically with the impending seven-reactor shutdown.
Was buying Candus the big mistake? Maybe. Canada's only other Candus have been even more problem-plagued: Pointe Lepreau in New Brunswick wins awards for unreliability, and one of the two reactors at Gentilly has been kept in a mothballed state since it was built a generation ago. Nuclear energy was supposed to be relatively cheap and exceptionally clean. Its track record in this country has not lived up to that promise.
Which means either the promises were over-ambitious or Hydro's execution was so poor as to defeat them. The report of the independent auditors brought in to assess Ontario Hydro's nuclear program, the release of which was a catalyst for Tuesday's explosion, strongly supports the mismanagement explanation. Hydro, say the auditors, "did not make a smooth transition from its original and highly successful design and construction phase to the second stage, focused on operating and maintaining its . . . operating nuclear units."
Their report adds that, "unless fundamental problems, most notably a lack of authoritative and accountable managerial leadership, are addressed and corrected, there is limited potential for success at Ontario Hydro Nuclear. Moreover, many problems are so deeply entrenched within all aspects of OHN (organizational structures, practices, policies and systems) that individual managers are unable or unwilling to take corrective action."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the corporate culture. And the evidence backs up the auditors' conclusions. Toxic leaks, it was recently learned, were allowed to flow for years without proper authorities being notified. A peer review this past spring found that safety problems have often been left unaddressed. There have been a number of serious accidents and mishandled repairs. A federal atomic regulator recently issued the equivalent of a probational permit to one nuclear station, licencing it for only nine months because of "management errors and operational deficiences."
So why is Hydro so badly managed? The place is a public monopoly: it can afford to be. Only a monopoly can make the kind of announcement that Hydro did this week: we've been hit by unexpected expenses of $8-billion, but don't worry, your electric rates won't go up. The relationship between costs and prices, like the relationship between poor management and failure, is somewhat fuzzy at Ontario Hydro.
It is now more than a year since the Advisory Committee on Competition in Ontario's Electricity System reported, recommending -- no surprise here -- a market with competition, accountability and freedom of choice for consumers. The electricity market should look just like the long-distance phone market, with one phone line but many providers competing to bring calls to your door. For months, the Ontario government has been promising a white paper on the future of Ontario Hydro. Now might be a good time to release it.
Montreal Gazette (Southam News)
By Greg Crone and Richard Brennan
TORONTO - Ontario Hydro knew how to build nuclear reactors but it didn't know how to run them, a leading U.S. nuclear expert says.
As a result, seven of Ontario's 20 reactors will now be closed, causing critics to question whether the province should continue to pump billions of dollars into nuclear-power generation.
Carl Andognini, the U.S. expert who examined the public utility's nuclear plants, said yesterday that Hydro failed to properly manage its nuclear assets after successfully developing them in the 1970s and '80s.
"The need for nuclear power plants declined. The organization failed to shift from an engineering and construction (one) to an operational and maintenance organization. It's very clear."
Andognini called the Candu reactors Hydro uses a "robust design" whose effectiveness is not in doubt.
"This is not a technology problem. It's a managerial problem."
Hydro chairman Bill Farlinger said an action plan has been approved in response to the report. In addition to closing reactors, it includes staff retraining and updating of managerial practices at the 13 remaining reactors.
"The nuclear unit was operated over all those early years as some sort of special nuclear cult," Farlinger said.
Ontario will be forced to fire up a mothballed fossil-fuel-burning plant and squeeze more capacity out of other stations to make up for the shortfall at a cost of billions of dollars.
Energy Minister Norm Sterling, who is also environment minister, said the environment will suffer as a result of the switch to fossil fuels. "There will be some degradation of air quality if this plan is followed."
Andognini, who was asked to write a "brutally honest" report, documents lapses in managerial leadership, lack of staff training, and minimally acceptable radiation protection and emergency preparedness.
The report prompted the resignation of Hydro president and chief executive Allan Kupcis, who assumed responsibility for the management failure.
Farlinger, now also acting CEO, said there will be no immediate job losses over the next two to three years since existing personnel will be needed to put the reactors into mothballs.
Hydro officials confirmed yesterday that the utility's board of directors will decide Sept. 9 whether to close the Bruce A nuclear generating station for good or delay its fate.
One of the four reactors at Bruce A is already laid up. The other three will be taken out of service in March 1998. The four reactors at the Pickering A nuclear site, near Toronto, are also to be shut down. The four reactors of Bruce B, along with reactors at Pickering B and the Darlington nuclear station, will remain in service.
The prospects for Bruce, with 1,500 employees, are particularly troubling. Its reactors are older than Pickering's and will need far more repair work. In what union officials consider an ominous portent, the mothballing plans call for nuclear fuel to remain in the Pickering reactors during the upgrade, while fuel is to be taken out of the Bruce units to save maintenance costs.
If a decision is made to reopen all the reactors, it could actually mean new jobs. Power Workers Union president John Murphy said that doesn't surprise him because he has always said Hydro laid off too many when it got rid of 10,000 people in the early 1990s.
Murphy said Hydro was too rash in deciding to close the reactors given that the study concluded the plants were still operating safely. "This was too conservative a response and it's going to be an expensive one."
The cost of closing seven reactors, relying more on expensive fossil fuel, and other increases in operating costs is expected to hit between $5 billion and $8 billion. In addition, there could be up to $2 billion in capital writeoffs, bringing the total tab to as much as $10 billion.
Farlinger said Hydro can manage the new expenses without driving up electricity prices. Hydro's $30-billion debt is presently being retired at the rate of $2 billion a year but that could be put on hold, he said.
Sterling said electricity rates should not rise despite the $8-billion cost. "That was a pledge we made during the election and we're still sticking by it."
Premier Mike Harris said he was made aware about a year ago that there were serious problems in Hydro's nuclear management.
"This is not something that happened over night," Harris said. "Clearly at this point in time the sound management, the superior management that we need of our nuclear facilities has not been in place through a series of governments."
Tom Adams of Energy Probe, a public interest group, predicted the closures will mean the demise of Canada's nuclear program.
"It's going to foretell the premature closure of the remaining reactors in service in Canada," Adams said.
NDP energy critic Marilyn Churley said there should be public hearings so Ontario residents can decide for themselves whether they want to continue pumping money into nuclear power. "This is an opportunity to look at alternative forms of energy and serious investments in conservation," she said.
By Dan Westell
Ontario Hydro's plan to take 16% of its generating capacity out of service so it can devote resources to fixing its ailing nuclear reactors could wipe out the utility's profit and delay its $2-billion annual debt repayment program for five years, executives say.
It could cost Hydro $5 billion to $8 billion in unforeseen costs from now to the end of 2001 to replace power from seven laid-up nuclear units with electricity generated by burning more costly fossil fuels, upgrade its 12 other nuclear units, and cover other related costs, Hydro chairman Bill Farlinger said yesterday.
The decision to close the seven units, four at the Pickering station outside Toronto and three at the Bruce station at Kincardine, together totalling more than 4,400 megawatts of capacity, was made in the wake of a report that rated Hydro's nuclear operations safe but only "minimally acceptable."
Closing the seven units will free resources to repair and properly operate the remaining 12 units, said Carl Andognini, the U.S. expert brought in early this year to prepare the report and suggest remedies.
"This is not a technical problem, it's a management and resources problem," he said of his criticism of nuclear managers, most of whom have left. Andognini, now executive vice-president and chief nuclear officer, will oversee the repairs.
The seven closed units will be reopened if economic conditions warrant, Farlinger said. In the meantime, Hydro will maintain its prices and has enough excess capacity to cover the shortfall, with the possible exception of supply to industrial customers buying interruptible power. Hydro has told them they could face both supply shortages at peak periods and higher costs.
Hydro estimates it would cost $5.3 billion over five years to reopen the closed units. The money will be covered from cash flow by suspending the utility's $2-billion-a-year net debt reduction, chief financial officer Eleanor Clitheroe said.
That would wipe out Hydro's profit for five years if the charges are taken each year, but the utility may decide to account for all the costs this year, she said.
Hydro's ability to pay for the renovations out of cash flow has reassured debt-rating agencies. At least three yesterday confirmed their ratings for Ontario, which guarantees Hydro's $30-billion debt.
Clitheroe said the estimated costs of the shutdown range anywhere from $5.3 billion to $7.6 billion, depending on whether the closed reactors reopen or are closed for good.
The $5.3-billion figure, which assumes the closed units reopen, consists of an additional $1.6 billion for operations and maintenance, $2.5 billion to buy fossil fuel, $900-million interest on the debt not repaid, and other charges including a $250-million writeoff of work in progress.
As well as the charges on its income statement, Hydro will have to find an extra $200 million a year for five years for its capital budget, which already is about $1 billion a year, Clitheroe said.
Hydro's higher estimate of $7.6 billion assumes the closed nuclear units never reopen. It consists of fuel, interest, operating and maintenance charges of $4.2 billion and $3.4 billion to write off the seven units. Additional capital requirements under this scenario would total about $1.2 billion over five years, she said.
By Stan Josey and Jane Armstrong
Toronto Star Staff Reporters
Four reactors at the Pickering nuclear station, above, and three at the Bruce nuclear station will be shut down as part of a massive overhaul that is expected to cost Ontario Hydro $8 billion.Ontario Hydro will shut down seven nuclear reactors in an unprecedented overhaul of its system.
Ontario Hydro overhaul
- Four of the eight nuclear reactors at Pickering to close for repairs over the next year.
- Three units at Bruce to close for repairs and the heavy water plant permanently closed.
- Nanticoke and Lambton coal or oil-fired generating stations will run at higher levels. A mothballed unit at the Lennox station will reopen.
- Electricity rates won't rise. There has been a freeze on rates for several years.
- Upgrading of nuclear facilities, plus the heavier reliance on more expensive fossil fuels, will cost Hydro $8 billion over the next four years.
- Extensive upgrades will also be made to the Pickering B and Bruce B plants and at the Darlington nuclear station over the next three years.
The move comes in the wake of a devastating report from an advisory group about Hydro's safety problems.
The report, to be publicly released today, also forced the resignation yesterday of Allan Kupcis, the Hydro president and chief executive officer who, at $502,000 a year, was the highest-paid civil servant in the province.
The report is seen as a devastating blow to the credibility and reputation of the giant utility.
Hydro officials stressed, however, its three nuclear plants at Pickering, Bruce and Darlington are operating safely and there is "no undue risk" to the public.
Hydro has been forced to shut down nuclear reactors in the past for upgrading but never so many at one time - seven of the 20 nuclear reactors in the province will be out of service over the next year.
Sources say the cost of the overhaul will reach $8 billion. The utility did not say what upgrades the reactors require.
Hydro chairman Bill Farlinger was to announce today the overhaul will not affect rates. A rate freeze has been in effect for several years.
Premier Mike Harris said last night that "if it means shutting down reactors to be able to ensure the safety and ensure the management, and be able to run them more efficiently, then that is exactly what will happen. And yes, this is going to cost some money."
Nuclear power accounts for 65 per cent of the power supply in Ontario.
The report was commissioned by Kupcis earlier this year after a series of incidents involving Hydro's nuclear plants.
The latest problem was just last month when Hydro admitted that tritium-laced heavy water had been leaking out of a heavy water enrichment plant at the Pickering nuclear plant for 18 years without the proper authorities being notified.
Hydro's board of directors met yesterday to discuss the report and today was to hold a news conference to discuss the overhaul and Kupcis' resignation.
In a Hydro statement to be released today and obtained by The Star, Carl Andognini, whose group prepared the report, says his team was "brutally honest about Hydro's nuclear assets."
And while the recommendations from his group will result in "comprehensive changes to nuclear operations and have significant financial implications, the team concluded that all plants are being operated safely and that the public is not facing undue risk."
Andognini's team ranked the Pickering, Bruce and Darlington nuclear stations as "minimally acceptable," which the Hydro prepared statement said was "consistent with the rankings of nuclear plants in the United States that would be permitted to continue operating."
But despite that pronouncement, Hydro will announce today that four reactors at Pickering and three at the Bruce nuclear station near Kincardine will be "laid up over the next year."
The heavy water production plant at the Bruce station will be shut down permanently. Heavy water is used as a coolant in the Canadian nuclear reactor system.
As well, "extensive upgradings" will be made to the other four reactors at Pickering, the three at Bruce and the reactors at the Darlington station in Clarington over the next three years.
Hydro says to replace the electricity production lost by shutting the reactors it will run its Nanticoke and Lambton fossil generating stations at higher levels and bring back into service mothballed units of the Lennox station, near Kingston.
Energy Minister Norm Sterling told The Star's Jennifer Quinn last night that the provincial government's main concerns are safety and economic feasibility for Ontario Hydro.
"Number one, we have to have better safety. But the question is can Ontario Hydro have better safety - which we require, we're demanding because of this report - and still deliver power economically?
"So the recovery plan has to deal with both of those issues. It's no sense in us investing $5 (billion) to $8 billion dollars if in fact that doesn't lead to economic, competitive power rates in the province of Ontario.
"We're better off saying to the private sector, you do it, or we're better off buying that power from Manitoba power or Quebec Hydro."
While Hydro says returning the Pickering and Bruce nuclear units back to service will be based on "economic and market conditions," critics say the mothballed reactors likely will not be restarted in the foreseeable future and in effect are being shut down permanently.
Critics say the job losses among the 10,000 workers in Hydro's nuclear division will be minimal over the next two years and then likely will be taken care of through attrition or buy-outs.
"It takes a lot of workers and a long time to decommission one of these units," said Dave Martin of the watchdog group Durham Nuclear Awareness.
But he said Hydro's decision to shut down a large part of its nuclear generating capacity is a "victory for the people of Ontario and the environment.
"We have been fighting for this for a long time and it is a relief to see these older units finally being taken out of service."
Pickering Mayor Wayne Arthurs said public confidence in the Pickering station has been "eroded" over the last 18 months with all of the issues that have arisen around plant operations and safety.
"I think closing the A plant for whatever period of time is the right thing to do," he said. "Now Hydro can concentrate its resources in getting the newer B side of the plant back to world-class standard."
By Stan Josey
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
Allan Kupcis is stepping down just four years after being appointed president and two years after being made chief executive officer of Ontario Hydro.
His sudden resignation ends a 20-year career with Hydro, which has become increasingly plagued by operating problems and safety concerns in recent years.
Hydro, which is North America's largest utility, has announced that its current chairman, Bill Farlinger, will be interim CEO until a successor is appointed.
Kupcis' resignation follows an eight-month investigation by a team of American nuclear experts into a rash of problems that have plagued the giant utility over the years.
"The findings suggest that Hydro has endemic problems with management culture," Kupcis, 53, said in a statement yesterday. "As the CEO, this is clearly my accountability, and this is the principal reason why I believe it is time for me to step down."
Here are some problems that have surfaced at Hydro over the years:
Kupcis, a professional engineer who worked his way to the top job at Hydro over a 20-year period, said he was sorry to be leaving under the circumstances but is proud that he had commissioned the report that led to his resignation.
"As disturbing as I find the consequences, I am very proud that I commissioned the report. I recommend its results . . ."
As Ontario Hydro president and CEO, Kupcis last year earned $502,000 plus $61,000 in taxable benefits, making him the highest-paid Ontario civil servant.
Globe and Mail
By James Rusk
Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario Hydro's president and chief executive officer resigned yesterday, taking personal responsibility for the poor performance of the utility's nuclear division.
To fix the problems, Hydro will temporarily shut down seven of its nuclear reactors at a cost of $5-billion to $8-billion.
Allan Kupcis resigned in a letter to the Hydro board, which met for the day to consider a damning internal report on the performance of the nuclear division. The board approved a major overhaul of the utility's production facilities in response to the report.
Hydro chairman William Farlinger announced that the overhaul of the nuclear division will not increase the price of electricity in the province.
The board decided that, over the next three years, Hydro will make major improvements to the Bruce B, Pickering B and Darlington nuclear power plants. The changes at those plants will include upgrading the engineering designs and processes, developing new management and organizational procedures, training staff and improving maintenance and work habits.
The changes will mean that, for the next year, the A units at both Pickering and Bruce will be closed down. The heavy-water plant at Bruce will also be closed. It is not clear when, if ever, these plants will reopen.
The Hydro board decided that Pickering and Bruce A will be brought back to service when economic and market conditions are right.
To make up for the loss in production from nuclear plants, Hydro will increase electricity production from its fossil-fuel plants at Nanticoke and Lambton and bring back into production units that have been mothballed at the Lennox plant near Napanee.
The utility estimates that these decisions will cost it between $5-billion and $8-billion from 1997 to 2001. The increased costs include the upgrades to the nuclear plants, the replacement of uranium with more expensive fossil fuel and other capital and operating costs.
Hydro is also considering writing off another $2-billion in unproductive assets in the current fiscal year. This would come on the heels of a $2.5-billion writeoff in 1996, primarily because of charges against the nuclear division.
"The findings [of the report] are significant and the economic consequences severe," Dr. Kupcis, a research engineer, said in his resignation letter, part of it released by Hydro. "Principally, the findings suggest that Hydro has endemic problems with management culture. As the CEO, this is clearly my accountability, and this is the principal reason why I believe that it is time for me to step down."
"They are not given a failing grade but they're given close to a failing grade in the report," provincial Energy Minister Norm Sterling told Canadian Press. "The mechanics of it are in good shape. It's a people problem."
Paradoxically, the report that led to Dr. Kupcis's downfall was prepared at his direction. In January, he brought in seven U.S. nuclear-power experts, headed by 30-year nuclear veteran Carl Andognini, to take over Hydro's nuclear operations and report to the board on the division's problems.
In his letter of resignation, Dr. Kupcis said that he was proud to have commissioned the report and that he commended its findings to the Hydro board.
Thomas Adams of the power-policy watchdog Energy Probe said that, while it was not clear what is going on at Hydro with Dr. Kupcis's resignation, "his departure may indicate a weakening of its [Hydro's] resolve to clean up its nuclear problems."
Mr. Adams said he based this conclusion on the fact that Dr. Kupcis, unlike some previous Hydro executives, has always been a straight-shooter about the utility's problems and was instrumental in earlier Hydro decisions to close two units at the Bruce nuclear reactor.
While the report on the nuclear division's problems will not be made public until a press conference this morning, it gives the nuclear division a near-failing grade for safety.
The assessment, which was performed by a team of independent professional and Hydro staff, rated the Pickering, Bruce and Darlington stations as "minimally acceptable," a standard that would still allow them to operate.
It also said that while the management and cultural problems identified by the review are extensive, they "are not substantially different than the effort required to turn the troubled plants around."
While there are no details available from the report, earlier this year The Globe and Mail obtained internal Hydro reports that painted a distressing picture of the safety culture within the utility.
Staff at Hydro's Pickering nuclear B plant have been found sleeping on the job, playing computer games and engaging in poor work practices that could lead to significant accidents.
Dr. Kupcis, a 24-year Hydro veteran who rose through the ranks in the nuclear division, was appointed president of the utility in 1993 and chief executive officer in January, 1995.
Mr. Farlinger, a veteran Bay Street executive and a close political ally of Premier Mike Harris, who was appointed Hydro chairman after the government won the 1995 election, will act as Hydro's chief executive officer until a new president and CEO is appointed.
Dr. Kupcis's departure and the decision by the Hydro Board to embark on the multibillion-dollar overhaul of the nuclear division occur just as the provincial government enters the final phases of preparing a white paper on the future of the utility and the development of a competitive market for electricity in Ontario.
The province has been under pressure from both Hydro critics and a coalition representing most of the electricity users in the province to restructure the utility into a generating arm and a transmission company, both publicly owned, as the first step in creating a competitive electricity market.
Hydro has been resisting the proposed change, but it was not immediately clear what impact the resignation and the plans for the nuclear overhaul would have on the proposed white paper. Information is available on the Internet from Ontario Hydro at http://www.hydro.on.ca
(quoted in the Ottawa Citizen)
By Stan Josey
Ontario Hydro's board of directors will be told tomorrow what's needed to rescue the province's problem-plagued nuclear power generating program.
Carl Andognini, an American nuclear expert hired in January to return Ontario's nuclear program to its former "world-class status" is expected to present the province with some "tough" options for solving such problems as leaks and spills.
These could include:
Mr. Andognini, who has 30 years of experience in the U.S. nuclear industry, was hired by Ontario Hydro president Allan Kupcis.
As executive vice-president and chief nuclear officer, Mr. Andognini assembled a team of six U.S. nuclear experts to look at a series of spills, leaks and "human errors" that have plagued the Pickering Nuclear Station east of Toronto and other nuclear power generating facilities in the province.
He is also heading an investigation into two incidents: an 18-year-long leak of tritium-laced heavy water into the ground at Pickering, and the release of more than 1,000 tonnes of copper and zinc into Lake Ontario from nuclear plant condenser tubes during the past decade.
Federal, provincial and Durham regional officials are still scratching their heads over how the provincial utility failed to plug the radioactive tritium leak.
"This is clearly something that should have been found and reported," Robert Potvin of the Atomic Energy Control Board said Friday.
"This is another example of what we have been saying for two years. There is a need to improve the quality of work and attention to detail at Pickering".
Because of the problems at the plan, the board renewed the station's operating licence in June for only nine months.