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A Candu fiasco in Romania

Using technology developed for atomic bombs, Canadian scientists hoped to bring safe, economical power to an energy-hungry world. By 1962, the first Candu (Canada Deuterium Uranium) reactor was powering Canadian homes, and Canada led the world in nuclear power generation technology. But Candu has fallen on hard times, faced with rising costs and serious environmental and ethical questions.

Nuclear power may be the hardest sell of all Canada's exports, and recent buyers leave a lot to be desired. Canada partnered with Romania to build five Candu reactors, but Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who signed the deal, has just been deposed and executed, and the fifth estate finds the Candus have become another of his terrible legacies -- poorly built, wrapped up in red tape, and still incomplete after ten years of construction.
. In the 1970s Nicolae Ceausescu attempted to modernize Romania by borrowing huge amounts of money from Western banks. To pay for his giant projects, much of Romania's food and fuel was exported and the Romanian people suffered greatly.
. In December 1989 there were demonstrations against the government, joined by the army. Ceausescu fled but was arrested and executed on Christmas day.

. At one point Ceaucescu told the Romanian people that part of the nuclear plant was operational, when in fact the construction was still underway.
. As the project progressed the Romanians insisted on building many of the parts themselves, even if they had to delay the project for months while they learned how to do so.
. For some reactor parts built in Canada, the Romanians paid in "counter-trade" — surplus Romanian goods including planes, cars, clothes, steel, wine and jam.
Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: Jan. 16, 1990
Guest(s): Don Anderson, John Karger, Ed Lumley
Reporter: Sheila MacVicar
Duration: 6:40

Last updated: January 16, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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