Canada's nuclear-safety watchdog lacks expertise in the type of light-water reactors made by AECL's competitors and would have to bring in specialists to review licence applications if competitors enter bids.
"It is estimated that there will be two applications with this design requiring outsourced technical expertise at an estimated cost of $29 million over five years," says a memo prepared by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Those applications would come from Areva of France and Westinghouse Electric of the U.S.
There are no light-water reactors in Canada AECL makes Candu heavy-water reactors so the commission never needed much expertise in the area, says another memo.
Commission spokesperson Aurèle Gervais said the $29 million would not be spent if no firm applies for a light-water reactor licence.