CNL - a wholly-owned subsidiary of AECL - will officially be launched on 3 November. It will employ some 3400 people at 12 locations across Canada. The corporate headquarters and core research and development operations will remain situated at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.
AECL's nuclear laboratories are spread across seven sites in Canada and comprise several nuclear science and technology facilities, including the 135 MWt NRU (National Research Universal) research reactor. The facilities are used for isotope production; reactor component and fuel examination; nuclear instrumentation and dosimetry services; materials and reactor-chemistry research; and training of nuclear professionals.
The new organization will focus on three key mandates: managing the radioactive waste and decommissioning activities arising from over 60 years of nuclear research and development; providing nuclear science and technology capabilities to support federal responsibilities; and providing access to in-depth nuclear science and technology facilities and expertise for Canada's nuclear industry on a commercial basis.
AECL said, "This is a major milestone in the restructuring of AECL that will ultimately revitalize Canada's premier nuclear science and technology organization."
The Canadian government decided in 2009 that AECL should be restructured in a two-stage process. The first stage of the restructuring saw the sale of AECL's former Candu Reactor Division to SNC-Lavalin subsidiary Candu Energy Inc in 2011.
The government wants to implement a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model to manage AECL's laboratories in a similar way to such activities in the UK and USA. The aim is to create value and reduce risks and costs for taxpayers while continuing to fulfil AECL's core mandate.
The implementation of the GoCo model entails two steps. The first is the creation of CNL as a subsidiary of AECL, to be operated largely with the governance, management systems and workforce that have been in place under AECL.
The second step will take place at the end of the government's procurement process to select the GoCo contractor, when the GoCo contract is awarded and ownership of CNL is transferred from AECL to the contractor. This is expected to happen in late 2015, when CNL will become a private-sector entity, and AECL will then be a small Crown corporation focused on the management and oversight of this contract. AECL will also retain ownership of CNL's physical and intellectual property assets and its liabilities.
In March 2014, interested suppliers were invited to submit a request for response evaluation (RFRE) to demonstrate that they have the experience, expertise and financial capacity to manage the nuclear laboratories. The closing date for RFRE submissions was 6 August. Qualifying suppliers will engage in detailed consultations with the government, and ultimately submit a bid in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) that is expected to be issued by the end of this year.
AECL president and CEO Robert Walker said, "CNL may be a new organization, but it stands on the shoulders of a Crown corporation with a proud history that spans over six decades of cutting-edge nuclear science and technology. This new model of operation will capitalize on burgeoning market opportunities and private sector management, opening up a promising new era before us."