Nuke Bill to enable India tap international corpus of funds

The contentious Nuclear Liability Bill, if passed by Parliament, would enable India to tap international corpus of funds to pay compensation in case of a nuclear accident, officials said.

New Delhi: The contentious Nuclear Liability
Bill, if passed by Parliament, would enable India to tap
international corpus of funds to pay compensation in case of a
nuclear accident, officials said.

A Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Law is pre-requisite
for India to be part of the Convention on Supplementary
Compensation (CSC) adopted by UN nuclear watchdog --
International Atomic Energy Agency in 1997.

The CSC makes the operator of the nuclear installation and
not the suppliers, liable in the event of an accident and caps
the level of compensation at not less than 300 million Special
Drawing Rights (SDRs), equivalent to nearly USD 460 million.

Similarly, the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill --
2010, which the government was forced to defer, seeks to put a
financial cap on compensation at Rs 2,100 crore (300 million
SDRs) and limits the liability of the operator to Rs 500
crore. The government has to share the rest of amount.

If more funds are needed, government could tap into an
international corpus proposed to be set up under the CSC and
draw an additional about USD 500 million.

However, the CSC is yet come into force as it has been
ratified by only four countries -- the US, Argentina, Morocco
and Romania.

According to IAEA, at least five states with a minimum of
4,00,000 MWe of installed nuclear capacity have to ratify the
Convention for it to come into force.

The other international conventions that provide such
indemnity to the global nuclear industry, are the Paris
Convention (1960) and the Vienna Convention, which was
revised during an IAEA conference in Vienna in September 1997.

Meanwhile, many countries, which are not yet party to any
Convention, have their own legislative regimes for nuclear

In the US, the nuclear liability is addressed by its 1957
Price Anderson Act, the world`s first comprehensive nuclear
liability law, that calls for USD 10 billion in cover without
cost to the public or government and without fault needing to
be proven.

According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an
international organisation that promotes nuclear energy, the
federal law covers power reactors, research reactors, and all
other nuclear facilities.

In the UK, the Energy Act 1983 addresses the nuclear
liability and in 1994, it set a new limit of GBP 140 million
for each major installation, so that the operator is
liable for claims up to this amount and must insure

Germany has unlimited operator liability that requires
EUR 2.5 billion security, which must be provided by the
operator for each plant. This security is partly covered by
insurance, to EUR 256 million.

In France, the domestic law requires financial security of
EUR 91 million per plant, while in Switzerland (which has
signed but not yet ratified the Conventions) it requires
operators to insure to EUR 600 million. The country is now
mulling increasing this to EUR 1.1 billion and ratify the
Paris and Vienna conventions.

A 2005 Act in Finland requires operators to take at least
EUR 700 million insurance cover, and operator liability is
unlimited beyond the EUR 1.5 billion provided under the Vienna

In Sweden, the country`s nuclear liability act requires
operators to be insured for at least 3300 million Swedish
kroner (SEK) (EUR 302 million), beyond which the state will
cover to SEK 6 billion per incident.

The Czech Republic is moving toward ratifying the
amendment to the Vienna Convention and in 2009, increased the
mandatory minimum insurance cover required for each reactor to
Czech koruna (CZK) 8 billion (EUR 296 million).

In Canada the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act is
also in line with the international conventions and
establishes the licensee`s absolute and exclusive liability
for third party damage.

While suppliers of goods and services are given absolute
discharge of liability, the law sets 75 million Canadian
dollars per power plant as the insurance cover required for
individual licensees.

In Japan, which is not party to any international
liability convention, plant operator liability is exclusive
and absolute and they must provide a financial security amount
of 60 billion yen (USD 600 million). From 2010 this doubles to
120 billion yen (USD 1.2 billion).

Russia, which is party to the Vienna Convention since
2005, has a domestic nuclear insurance pool comprising 23
insurance companies covering liability of some USD 350

Ukraine adopted a domestic liability law in 1995 and has
revised it since in order to harmonise with the Vienna
Convention, which it joined in 1996. It is also party to the
Joint Protocol and has signed the CSC.

China is not party to any international liability
convention but is an active member of the international
insurance pooling system.

The international community has been showing seriousness
for the safety of nuclear plants since the Chernobyl nuclear
plant disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

Over 50 people died at the plant, while an estimated
65,000 died from complications over the years.

Nearly 400,000 people from neighbouring areas of
Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were evacuated and an exclusion
zone of 3,000 sq km was created and deemed off limits for
human habitation for an indefinite period after the disaster.