Paul Thompson photo
Speaker: Grant Unsworth
Topic: Canada's Private-Sector Nuclear Industry
Location: J.L. Gray Centre
Deep River, Ont.
Date: Thursday, May 27, 1999 (8:00 pm)

Summary published in North Renfrew Times, June 2, 1999:

Marriage of Private and Public Sectors in Nuclear Industry Began With CANDU

by Jeremy Whitlock

On Thursday evening, May 27, the Canadian Nuclear Society presented its final public speaker of the season at the J.L. Gray Centre. The topic was "Canada's Private-Sector Nuclear Industry", presented by Grant Unsworth of CTECH in Oakville (a recent joint-venture between Canatom NPM and AEA Technologies of the U.K.).

Mr. Unsworth started in the public sector of the nuclear industry in 1958, working at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories until 1987. Since then he as worked as a consultant, mainly in radioactive materials management, for Canatom NPM, Monserco, and currently the CTECH joint venture.

Mr. Unsworth outlined the history of Canada's nuclear private sector up to the current day, and shared his thoughts on where it is headed. The marriage of public and private sectors in the nuclear industry dates from the birth of CANDU, and in particular the significant involvement of Canada General Electric in the construction of NPD at Rolphton.

In 1967 Canada's largest private nuclear engineering company, Canatom NPM, was formed to provide non-nuclear design and construction services for later CANDU projects, and has enjoyed a close relationship with AECL and Ontario Hydro ever since.

Although representing Canada's entire nuclear private sector, Mr. Unsworth's message clearly came from the viewpoint of a private nuclear consultant.

According to Mr. Unsworth, private engineering companies have had to diversify with the downturn in reactor construction of the 80's and 90's. Their portfolios now include waste management, environmental qualification, configuration and project management, plant refurbishment, and even decommissioning.

The clientele has long since branched out from the usual list of public agencies and utilities, to include private mining companies, isotope suppliers, hospitals, and radiopharmacies.

More recently the restructuring taking place across Canada's entire nuclear public sector has presented both problems and opportunities for the consultants.

While budgeting has become more erratic and planning more uncertain, competition has also increased due to widespread outsourcing. On the other hand, the new environment presents opportunities, particularly with utility privatization on the horizon.

Meanwhile, Canada's private-sector nuclear industry copes by exploiting niche markets, entering international markets, forming joint ventures such as CTECH, and reducing overhead as much as possible.