The USA is one step closer to ratifying an international nuclear accident treaty. President George Bush has sent the United Nations Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage to the US Senate for a final vote. The Convention was introduced in Vienna more than five years ago, when it was adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The treaty sets out a framework for defining, adjudicating, and compensating civil liability for damage from nuclear power plants. It also insists on supplementary compensation funds covering an incident with damage so extensive that it exhausts existing available reserves. The US Department of Energy thinks ratification could proceed with minor amendments to the USA’s existing Price-Anderson Act regime.