EDC has been the source of life support for Candu nuclear exports over the years. It has financed Candu sales to South Korea, Argentina, and Romania. In 1974, EDC financed the Argentine government purchase of a Candu nuclear reactor from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., another Crown corporation that markets the Candu. The Cordoba plant continually breaks down, threatens the environment, and creates chaos for the economy. It has also resulted in millions of dollars in losses to Canadian taxpayers. Because the Candu could not sell on its own merits, the government enlisted the EDC.
Meanwhile, in Romania, slave labour was reportedly used to build that Candu. In South Korea, the reactors are the subject of frequent protests. The Canadian government also tried, but failed, to sell Candus to Mexico. In 1982, Prime Minister Trudeau flew to Mexico City promising $1.5 billion in EDC loans and another $4 billion from the Canada Account, which EDC administers, if Mexico chose Candu reactors. Mexico’s debt crisis hit soon after and spared Mexico this ill-conceived investment. In 1997, the Liberal cabinet approved a $1.5-billion EDC loan to enable Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to finance the sale of two Candu reactors to Turkey. In 1998, EDC announced it will back the sale of still more Candus to Korea and Romania.
EDC also lent China $1.5 billion for two reactors to China. EDC will finance these sales despite the fact that we can’t run Candus safely and affordably in Canada and the fact that they are so defective and uneconomic that there is no longer a market for them here. Pressure tubes have ruptured and reactor feeder pipes have worn thin, a phenomenon known as premature aging. This increases the risk of a reactor meltdown, yet the cost of fixing these problems is greater than the initial cost of the plant. North America’s largest utility, and the Candu’s largest customer, Ontario Hydro, is known to have been bankrupted by this technology. Ontario Hydro has shut down one-third of its reactors, 20 years ahead of schedule. Finally, nuclear reactors produce highly radioactive waste by-products that will have to be managed for thousands of years to come.
Wherever the old electric monopolies are being dismantled, cleaner and cheaper sources of power, such as combined cycle gas turbines, are the first choice of investors. All of the foreign Candu sales have been approved by EDC without any formal public debate in Canada or in the recipient country, without environmental assessments, and without independent financial scrutiny. The courts are now considering whether or not the federal government violated its own environmental assessment laws in approving the recent Candu sale to China.