So, Manning thinks we need a brand new bureaucracy to develop new research reactors? We're already building the Maple 1 and Maple 2. Those new research reactors were scheduled to replace the aging Chalk River plant in 2000. They are 8 years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. More bureaucracy will fix that? I ain't bettin' on it.
The latest chapter to the AECL saga is that Mr. Burns was selected on purely partisan grounds after two headhunting studies recommended a qualified, experienced individual for the job. Just like Harper said, the problem is with political hacks being appointed to jobs for which they are unqualified.
Tony Clement is now saying there are management problems at AECL. He's making it sound like Burns had to go. Two days ago, the spin was that Burns' hasty departure had nothing to do with the manufactured isotope shortage. Yesterday, a different story. Tomorrow? Wait for the next spin cycle. The $31 million dollar polls aren't in yet.
“I think it's fair to say it confirmed our impression that there has to be new management, there has to be better management, at AECL,” Mr. Clement said.Was that the same impression they had in 2006 (edited from "2005" by JB per correction from LKO - see comments) when they paid for a headhunter and then chose a party hack instead of the recommended hire?
The biggest part of this whole scandal is the fact that the shortage and ensuing crisis were avoidable, even at almost the last minute.
MDS is the profitable private company that distributes AECL's isotopes. On Nov 30, MDS issued a press release advising investors that the company was facing a supply problem and shortages may develop. Such reporting is required for publicly traded companies when a known issue may affect stock price.
Alternate suppliers, particularly a Holland-based reactor, were already gearing up their production schedules to meet the demand when NRU could not. A similar outsourcing program was used in 1998 when a labour dispute shut down Chalk River.
Procedures for dealing with future shortages were implemented after the 1998 strike. Even during that strike, though, they managed to keep isotopes available.
This time, they let the crisis develop. Lives were put at risk. A full-blown crisis was manufactured and Harper, et al, saw no other option than to overrule CNSC and restart NRU. There were other options but they were apparently unknown to parliament.
If MDS had outsourced, no crisis would have developed. If MDS had outsourced, MDS's stock price would be negatively affected. Outsourcing from suppliers who are working overtime to meet demand is expensive. MDS's customers are mainly in North America. Flying isotopes from Holland or South Africa is expensive. Transportation costs would have would cut further into MDS's profits.
MDS played its cards skillfully. They created a shortage. They failed to notify all the affected parties. They failed to procure available alternative isotopes. They put thousands of lives at risk. They got Parliament to restore their source of profitable isotopes.
Harper's disdain for crown corporations is well known and his years at NCC document his anti-crowncorp ideology. Placing an unqualified party fundraiser in charge of a multi-billion dollar nuclear industry giant was tantamount to sabotage. Now, CPoC strategists like Norquay are popping up and saying we need to rid ourselves of this troublesome AECL.
Who benefits from a discredited safety board and a devalued AECL? G.E. for one. They are front runners in the bid to purchase AECL from the taxpayers of Canada.
20 years from now, will we be seeing some HoC ethics committee grilling Harper about his connection to an avoidable isotope shortage that threatened thousands of lives?
UPDATE: A commenter at the Globe & Mail found this file:
It outlines how a shortage is to be dealt with and names a Belgian supplier as the alternative source for isotopes.
'IRE and Nordion have signed a mutual Mo-99 backup agreement to avoid a complete shortage of Mo-99 in case of an unscheduled shutdown of the Canadian NRU reactor.'Nordion is MDS Nordion,
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