Wednesday, December 19, 2007

THE FOCUS: REORGANIZATION OR MEETING CNSC CONDITIONS OF LICENSING?


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        This was on Daily Digest December 14, 2007:

WHICH DECISION CAME FIRST?

AECL head resigns amid medical isotope controversy
http://www.recorder.ca/cp/National/071214/n1214107A.html

PRIME MINISTER HARPER ANNOUNCES NEW CHAIR AND CEO OF ATOMIC ENERGY OF CANADA LIMITED
http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=1&id=1939

        To-day A.E.C.L. had a leadership change. Michael C. Burns as Chair of the Board resigned.  Isn't it fortunate that when the Prime Minister
        'phoned Ms. Glenna Carr and Mr. Hugh MacDiarmid were prepared to immediately fill the void that had been created by the resignation.
        
        That is the way it happened, isn't it?

                  Joe .
        
        The unusually rapid replacement after a resignation intrigued me.  Googling A.E.C.L kept bringing up more and more information.  The result
        was the composition below.
        
        The heading raises a question for you to consider.
        
                  Joe
        
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THE FOCUS: REORGANIZATION OR MEETING CNSC CONDITIONS OF LICENSING

Health Minister Tony Clement appears to have not quite had his facts straight when he said concerning the resignation of Michael Burns as AECL Chairman: "I actually think this was just an interesting coincidence." (1)  The Chairman's resignation was unrelated to the crisis in the production of medical isotopes at the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd  (AECL) reactor.  It was, however, the near completion of a more than year long reorganization of the Crown Corporation readying it for possible privatization.

The first step in the privatization process was the appointment of Burns in October 2006, which was done over the recommendations of the Nominating Committee of AECL's Board of Directors, who had recommended Jean-Pierre Soublire. (2) Soublire had been Acting Chair of the Board of Directors for  (AECL) since October 20, 2005.   (3)  Burns, a former fundraiser for the Canadian Alliance (4), was probably considered as more amenable to change than someone who had been on the Board of Directors of AECL since 1998.(5)

Rather than concentrating on bringing the reactor up to the standards agreed upon when the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) approved the AECL application to renew the Chalk River Laboratories Site Operating Licence in July 2006 (6) government focus was on restructuring AECL into "two divisions a commercial reactor business and Atomic Energy's research and development operations."  Accomplished in October, 2007 it was seen by industry observers as a possible: "signal that the federal government is quietly preparing to privatize a portion of the crown corporation".  (7)

On November 2, 2007  Robert Van Adel, AECL President and Chief Executive Officer, a staunch public spokesman about the success of his Corporation (8), retired half way through his term of office.  Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced this decision in July.  (9)
 
On November 29th, before the isotope crisis, Chairman Burns resigned. (10) Though the last step deemed necessary for reorganization is not yet in place.  This is "Bill C-63, the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, which received first reading on June 15, 2007, would limit the liability of a nuclear plant to a maximum of $650 million dollars "(11), Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn by "coincidence" on November 29th launched "a strategy review of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to determine whether the maker of the Candu nuclear reactor needs to be restructured, a move industry observers say will likely lead to a partial privatization of the heavily subsidized Crown corporation."(12)

The isotope crisis gave the choreographers of new directions for AECL the opportunity to appear to act decisively.  On December 14th Chairman Burns resignation was announced as well as the appointment of his replacement as Chairman and that of a new CEO. (13)

The events of December 14th were not as Clement said "an interesting coincidence" but rather what Maurice Burns has called "a clumsy piece of political pportunism".(14)  Burns' resignation was being used as the opportunity to slip in a new management team.

Was a real crisis used to push the new Conservative government's privatization plans?  Perhaps the answer to this question is to be found in another coincidence: the publishing on December 15 of a column headlined "AECL served a purpose, now it's time to sell it." (15)


Quotations and information cited from:

(1) ________________________________________________
CTV's Question Period: Health Minister Tony Clement
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/HTMLTemplate?tf=/ctv/mar/video/new_player.html&cf=ctv/mar/ctv.cfg&hub=TopStories&video_link_high=mms://ctvbroadcast.ctv.ca/video/2007/12/16/ctvvideologger2_500kbps_2007_12_16_1197822695.wmv&video_link_low=mms://ctvbroadcast.ctv.ca/video/2007/12/16/ctvvideologger2_218kbps_2007_12_16_1197820538.wmv&clip_start=00:00:06.20&clip_end=00:08:17.99&clip_caption=CTV's%20Question%20Period:%20Health%20Minister%20Tony%20Clement&clip_id=ctvnews.20071216.00226000-00226731-clip1&subhub=video&no_ads=&sortdate=20071216&slug=isotope_reactor_071216&archive=CTVNews


(2) ______________________________
Ottawa ignored nuclear hiring advice
December 18, 2007 at 2:16 AM EST
Former AECL chief was passed over for Alliance fundraiser
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071218.wsoubliere18/BNStory/National/?cid=al_gam_nletter_newsUp

(3) ___________________________________________
Ottawa, 2006 October 31 ­ The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced the appointment of Mr. Michael C. Burns as Chair of the Board of Directors of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).
http://www.aecl.ca/NewsRoom/News/Press-2006/061031.htm

(4) ___________________________________________
Fallout from reactor shutdown claims AECL officials
Published: Friday, December 14, 2007
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=cdfa8399-871b-43af-9d6c-1eb058de89bc&k=31084
Burns, who was appointed in October 2006, was once chief fundraiser for the Canadian Alliance and chairman of the Canadian Alliance Fund. The Alliance merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 to form the Conservative Party.

(5) __________________________________________________________________
Jean-Pierre Soublière Appointed Acting Chairman To AECL's Board of Directors
http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:XPLRqPXPckoJ:www.aecl.ca/NewsRoom/News/Press-2005/051104.htm+Chairman+AECL&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ca
The Honourable John McCallum, Acting Minister of Natural Resources Canada, appointed Jean-Pierre Soublière Acting Chair of the Board of Directors for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) on October 20, 2005. Mr. Soublière has been a member of the AECL Board of Directors since October 1998

(6)_______________________
Chalk River, 2006 July 31 ­ Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is pleased to report that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has approved its application to renew the Chalk River Laboratories Site Operating Licence for a period of 63 months.
http://www.aecl.ca/NewsRoom/News/Press-2006/060731.htm

(7) ________________________________
Is shuffle at AECL prelude to a sell-off?
Memo triggers talk of plan for privatization
Oct 31, 2007 04:30 AM
http://www.thestar.com/article/272098

(8)___________________________
Letter to the Editor, Toronto Star
October 23, 2006
http://www.aecl.ca/Assets/Publications/Letters/RVA-Star-061023.pdf

(8)______________
Letter to the Editor
January 14, 2005
National Post
Financial Post Section
Re: Tom Adams on Nuclear: Wrong Again
http://www.aecl.ca/Assets/Publications/Letters/1Letter-RVA050114.pdf

(9)___________________
Lunn denies AECL sale
July 11, 2007
http://www.magma.ca/~drcanrt/lunndenyaeclsale.htm
Robert Van Adel will step down as of November 2, less than two years after being reappointed to the position.

(10) _________________________________________________
Nuclear chief blasts 'clumsy' management of isotope crisis
AECL chair tendered his resignation in November, long before controversy was made public

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071219.waecl19/BNStory/National/?cid=al_gam_nletter_newsUp

(11) __________________________________
Sierra Club of Canada News Release
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sneaky legislation puts taxpayers on hook for nuclear clean-up costs
http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/media/item.shtml?x=1336

(12) ______________________________
Nuclear agency review may trigger privatization
Nov 30, 2007 04:30 AM
http://www.thestar.com/article/281254

(13) ________________________________________________________________________
Prime Minister Harper announces new Chair and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
14 December 2007
Ottawa, Ontario
http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=1&id=1939

(14) ________________________________________________
Nuclear chief blasts 'clumsy' management of isotope crisis
AECL chair tendered his resignation in November, long before controversy was made public
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071219.waecl19/BNStory/National/?cid=al_gam_nletter_newsUp

(15) ______________________________________
AECL served a purpose, now it's time to sell it
DEREK DeCLOET
December 15, 2007
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20071215.RDECLOET15/TPStory/TPBusiness/Politics/


ADDENDUM

Unrelated to the main line developed is a political appointment to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
NUCLEAR FALLOUT:Energy: AECL head quits over isotope fiasco; while PM appoints N.B. Tory to safety commission
ROB LINKE
TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL
Published Saturday December 15th, 2007
http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:8CCFrdqx9kUJ:telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/157918+Ronald+J.+Barriault&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=netscape-pp .

____________________________________________________
New Appointment to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
December 12, 2007
http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/commission/about/comm_member_announce_12_12_2007.cfm