Let’s meet the Canadian nuclear firm, our Sinop suitors

Let’s meet the Canadian nuclear firm, our Sinop suitors

Twenty-six years have passed since the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Since that day, the world has experienced almost 100 nuclear incidents, large and small, with Fukushima being the last and most horrendous. Nuclear waste, on the other hand, is a mystery in itself. 

Fukushima has become a landmark for Germany, which is not even in an earthquake zone. While Europe and in Japan are closing nuclear power stations one after the other, countries like Turkey, which are “determined to develop,” have increased their investments in nuclear energy with threats such as “if not, you will be left without electricity.” When people in the Mediterranean province of Mersin said, “No,” it was not taken into account. They made a deal with Russian Rosatom. Next was Sinop, a Black Sea province. We have dozens of suitors, you know. Negotiations with Japan, South Korea and China are continuing. The target is big: exactly 12 units will be built. 

Recently, Candu Energy, a part of the Canadian SNC Lavalin Group, has been added to the mix. Energy Minister Taner Yılmaz shook hands earlier this week with the vice president of Candu for feasibility studies on four units. 

Bribery scandal in Tunisia 

However, while this happy moment was served up to the press, there were some strange developments unfolding on the other side of the world. The Canadian “construction and engineering giant” SNC Lavalin Group’s shares dropped 5 percent. It seems that “our” SNC Lavalin was involved in corruption in sister countries in North Africa. Wow!

According to a story published on April 24 in the Montreal Gazette, a Tunisian businessman disclosed to The Globe and Mail that because he had not bribed the managers of SNC in North Africa, he had been excluded from a major project in his country. SNC could not respond to these accusations because it was already in trouble. Because of bribery claims in Bangladesh, the Canadian police raided their headquarters in Montreal a few weeks ago. 

No, it’s not over yet. Let’s rewind a little: The chief executive officer of SNC, Pierre Duhaime, resigned on March 26. The reason is the disclosure that he approved the payment of $56 million for “unknown” mediators for “unknown” construction projects. Even though SNC does not reveal which countries he has made the payments in, it is assumed that $22.5 million has gone to Tunisia. (What about the rest, where?) 

Plan to smuggle Gadhafi’s son out 

SNC’s skills do not end there; the company lost 30 percent of its value on the stock exchange. The company frequently made headlines because of its “close” relations with Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
From The New York Times, April 11: SNC fired head of its construction department and a top financial executive (Cynthia Vanier) in February (before Duhaime resigned). 

Vanier frequently traveled to Libya to build a prison there and many other construction projects. She had filed a five-page report criticizing NATO’s bombing of Libya. Vanier was arrested in connection with a plan to smuggle Gadhafi’s son Saadi Gadhafi to Mexico. 

Meanwhile, the Word Bank has stopped SNC Lavalin’s construction activities in Bangladesh because of the corruption it was involved in during the construction of a bridge. 

These are the scandals of this company, a suitor for the Sinop nuclear power plant. Good luck to all of us.

Nuclear waste by the Ottawa River

- Last year, SNC bought Candu Energy, a company that operates the commercial relations of Canada’s atomic energy unit, for $15 million. 

- Candu Energy signed a deal for $440 million in Argentina together with Atomic Energy of Canada. It has been reported that it will build a nuclear power plant in Romania. Well, since construction work has not turned out to be very profitable, it is time to turn to quench the thirst of the “developing countries.”

- A small note for those who are indifferent to the nuclear threat: Candu will build a nuclear waste facility – the size of 100 Olympic pools – near the Ottawa River. And this is causing fierce debates in the country. 

Question: Those investors rushing to Sinop, where will they bury the nuclear waste? In the Black Sea? Near underground streams? 


Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared April 26. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.