UK plans GBP 1 billion of liability for new nuclear operators

27 January 2011

Nuclear operators will be expected to take on liability of GBP 1 billion (EUR 1.2 billion) for each of their sites, an increase on the current level of GBP140 million, under new UK government proposals.

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

“We are taking steps to reduce any risk of the taxpayer having to pick up the tab for new nuclear further down the track. We’ve already set out how operators will be required to put aside money from day one for their eventual clean up and waste storage, and now we’re increasing substantially the liability to be taken on by operators.”

The proposal to require operators to take on liability of EUR 1.2 billion for each of their sites follows the changes to the Paris and Brussels Conventions on nuclear third party liability. It is also more than the €700m minimum required under the revised conventions, which have not yet been ratified and so are not currently binding.

There will also be an increase in the categories of damage for which operators are liable to include damage related to the environment. The geographical scope of those eligible to claim compensation will be widened, and any liabilities will be channelled automatically to the nuclear operator.

The UK government also said: "There will also be interest in how operators propose to find financial security or insurance to cover their new liabilities, particularly for those elements which the insurance market is unwilling to provide full cover e.g. personal injury between 10-30 years. It may be necessary for Government to provide reinsurance for any gaps, if there is genuine market failure. We would do so for a charge based on our assessment of the risk we were taking on."

The consultation on the Paris and Brussels Conventions will run from 24 January to 28 April 2011. The full document is available at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/open/open.aspx


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