Legislation that would re-authorise the Price-Anderson nuclear liability insurance law for another 15 years was approved with bi-partisan support in October by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and air quality. With Congress nearing the end of its 2001 legislative session, supporters of the bill, HR 2983, may seek to bypass the full committee and attach it as a rider to the “Homeland Security Act of 2001,” a catch-all Republican-sponsored bill that contains a number of provisions to increase US domestic energy supply.
The Price-Anderson reauthorisation language cleared the House subcommittee easily after Rep John Dingell (D-Michigan) withdrew an amendment that would have allowed the Department of Justice to sue Department of Energy contractors if they caused an accident due to “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.” Dingell said he would seek to reinstate the provision at a later step in the legislative process.
The bill also contains a provision that would help to spur the construction of small, modular nuclear power reactors.
The Price-Anderson Act is currently scheduled to expire in August 2002. All existing nuclear facilities would continue to be covered for the remainder of their operating lives, but an extension of the law is needed to provide financial protection to owners of potential new nuclear plants.