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AECL CANDU Reactor Devision SOLD

  1. Jun 30, 2011 #1
    Hi everyone,

    For those who have not heard yet, the reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada has been sold. The bidding was initiated a couple of years ago and the sale has just gone through. SNC-Lavalin emerged as the only bidder... They are paying 15 million upfront, the government is keeping the intellectual property rights, and could make up to 285 million from them.

    http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1251153.html [Broken]
    http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2011/29/c2465.html [Broken]
    http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/1419617 [Broken]

    Personally, as a Canadian nuclear engineering student I'm shocked. The numbers look to me like they just gave AECL away. I know AECL has been loosing money, but selling for that little sounds to me like a slap in the face.

    On a related note, there go my job prospects. Any one got any recommendations for a nuclear engineering student in Canada? I'm about to finish my MASc in Nuclear Engineering doing fuel modeling work. I was planing on staying in nuclear for a PHD. But with no job prospects (market is about to get flooded with nuclear engineers) I'd consider leaving for something else if I could find an industry where the technical side is nearly as interesting...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2011 #2
    Why are you so negative?

    Do you have any industry contacts? Is AECL no longer conducting business in Canada?
  4. Jun 30, 2011 #3
    I'm bummed for a few reasons.

    First, I'm irritated that the government unloaded AECL for what amounts to chump change. If you look at the articles, the cumulative investment in AECL has been over 20 billion. As a citizen it pisses me off to see these things happen, but no one else seems to care.

    Second, I question how serious SNC is regarding continued development of CANDU technology. They have already stated that they would not be willing to take on significant financial risk constructing new plants. The only party that seems interested in buying CANDU reactors, the government of Ontario, has said it wont take on all the financial risk of the two reactors it wants. The federal government is on record refusing to provide assistance. Basically there is serious doubt that any new CANDUs will ever be built. Many analysis are on record saying that SNC likely purchased CANDU Energy solely to provide continued maintenance for the existing CANDU plants, which has been a profitable business.

    Third, I'm about to finish one degree in nuclear engineering at a time when at least 800 layoffs at AECL and many people are expecting continued cuts over the next 5 years. The market will be flooded with people of similar skill sets with more experience. I have plans to pursue a PHD in nuclear engineering but what is the point if there are no/poor job prospects? I feel like staring now in nuclear engineering is I'm jumping on to a sinking ship.

    I don't see how this is good for the nuclear industry in Canada. I guess it is better than the uncertainty of the past two years. I also understand that the government doesn't want to keep pissing away money, and rightfully so. I still question the wisdom of holding a fire-sale on a national asset with very significant spin-off employment.
  5. Jul 2, 2011 #4

    jim hardy

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    Gold Member

    i'd say dont despair, for i believe powerful world financial interests want a "nuclear renaissance" to pull the economy out of the doldrums.
    Recall Golden Rule - he with the gold makes the rules..imagine the interest on loans to build a couple hundred ten-billion dollar plants.

    And i notice worldwide stainless steel production is still very high, so somebody someplace isn't slowing down.

    CAE in Montreal built many of the Canadian power plant simulators - might put them on your interview list.

    good luck!
  6. Jul 2, 2011 #5
    Have you considered other countries?
  7. Jul 2, 2011 #6
    @ jim hardy and crazyisraelie
    Thanks guys. I'm sure I'll actually be fine. I was just hoping for some sort of serious commitment from the government and the purchaser. I'm still not entirely sure if a PHD in nuclear engineering, especially one focused on CANDU technology is a good idea for me.

    Other countries are definitely an option if the industry in Canada does not recover. Although needing a work VISA would definitely complicates things. For the time being I'm still in school.

    Anyways, this thread shouldn't be about my job prospects, it should be about the sale of CANDU Energy and what it's impact on the industry may be. Do other countries even view CANDU as a serious competitor or player in the industry? Does the involvement of a company like SNC-Lavalin change that?
  8. Jul 9, 2011 #7
    I think a few countries are actually using/building CANDU currently. I'd have to look into it further.
  9. Jul 10, 2011 #8
    From Wikipedia.
    Canada: 17 (+3 refurbishing, +5 decommissioned)
    South Korea: 4
    China: 2
    India: 2 (+13 CANDU-derivatives in use, +3 CANDU-derivatives under construction)
    Argentina: 1
    Romania: 2 (+3 under construction, currently dormant)
    Pakistan: 1
    ~44 Operational power reactors operational on CANDU design

    Total Power reactors globally= 439 nuclear power reactors ~10% of the worlds reactors are CANDU.
  10. Jul 24, 2011 #9
    Just put in my 2 cents.

    I graduated from EngPhys at Queen's recently. Heavy amount of course load in Nuke eng and monte carlo simulations. Couldn't find a job in Canada (in Nuclear) since the hell AECL was going through. So I went and did a Masters in Nuke Eng in France where they have a very healthy industry. Im finishing my industrial internship in a few months and have a job with them after.

    I completely agree that even though AECL is finally sold, new grads in Canada are still ****ed as theyre unloading ~800 engineers with similar skill sets and experience. And its ridiculous for new grads, as a major priority is to get work experience (freaking catch 22)

    I'm quite happy I jumped ship to France

    If you're going to do a PhD id suggest doing it in the states. From my jub hunting it seems for Westinghouse (and other american nuclear companies) you already have to have a green card and be a resident to be considered for jobs with them (even though NAFTA visas should cover that)
  11. Jul 24, 2011 #10
    Doing said PhD should thus fulfill future visa requirements.
  12. Jul 24, 2011 #11
    Hey, what university in France have you learned? I'm very interested in that. I also want to do a Master in Nuclear in France. I can speak French.
  13. Jul 24, 2011 #12
    Thanks for the reply. I actually graduated Queens EngPhys 09 so we may have seen each other around Stirling.

    Can I ask what you thought of doing grad-school outside of Canada? I looked into it briefly and it looked very expensive. I'm assuming you needed to be fully fluent in French?
  14. Jul 26, 2011 #13
    My impression was that a lot of the people being let go were admin, HR, accounting types (because SNC-Lavalin already has plenty of their own), and most of the technical ones who are leaving are near retirement age due to the age gap in nuclear professionals in NA. So I wouldn't think that it's as bad as that, though I would agree that it certainly doesn't help for the very short term.
  15. Jul 26, 2011 #14
    From the CBC:
    "Staff affected include up to 310 scientists and engineers, 155 technologists, 240 accountants and project managers, 45 employees who specialize in design drafting and 150 people in management."

    I guess some fraction of the 310 scientist and engineers may come from retirement packages, but I don't know the numbers.
  16. Jul 27, 2011 #15
    I went to the INSTN Cadarache which is run by the Atomic Energy Commission (basically theyre national nuclear lab).

    The education was all in French so ya have to be fluent. Also youre not going to get a job if you dont speak French (unless if you have years and years of valuable experience I guess)

    I graduated Queens 08, went to France since AECL was and still is grounded in the middle of nowhere and not hiring. Being a young engineer I need to work and I wanted to do core physics and neutronics. So the choice was USA or France basically. Chose France for various reasons (abroad, alps etc).

    Education is cheap, but different (1100 euros in tuition). You dont TA, you do your coursework fulltime and then after that you do your internship or research fulltime

    There are a few other Masters in Nuclear Engineering, 1 of which is taught in English. The education system is here is quite a bit different and complicated.
  17. Aug 25, 2012 #16
    Hologram0110 - I worked on the original CANDU reactor design back in the 60's and nothing that the government of Canada does when it comes to technology surprises me. Infuriates me, saddens me but doesn't surprise me. The Canadian Government has a history of giving away potentially successful technology to others who exploit it. See Arrow (and all the engineers and scientists who went to the US) The FP600 computer system, given to ICL in England, they went on to design and build 10's of thousands of computers based on Canadian technology. I could go on and on and on. CANDU is just the latest
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012
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