Ontario puts new nuclear reactor program on hold

Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:56pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario said on Monday it is suspending a multibillion-dollar plan to build two new nuclear reactors because of concerns about the future of the favored bidder and cost overruns.

Ontario said a proposal from Atomic Energy Corp Ltd, which is owned by the Canadian government, was the only one to meet its requirements for building two new reactors by 2018 at its Darlington nuclear power plant site, east of Toronto.

Other proposals to build the reactors came from French group Areva SA and Westinghouse Electric Co, which is owned by Toshiba Corp and Shaw Group Inc.

"Concern about pricing and uncertainty regarding (AECL's) future prevented Ontario from continuing with the procurement at this time," the provincial government said in a release.

In late May, Canada's federal government said it planned to seek buyers for AECL as part of an asset sale to wrestle down the government's record budget deficit.

A spokesman from AECL was not available for comment.

The Ontario government launched a procurement process in March 2008 to build a two-unit nuclear power plant at Darlington. Nuclear power now accounts for about 50 percent of Ontario's electricity supply.

DANGEROUS POWER PULSES

The Canadian nuclear power industry was also hit on Monday by a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper that said safety regulators have underestimated a feature at the country's electricity-producing Candu reactors, all designed by AECL, that might cause them to experience dangerous power pulses during a major accident.   Continued...