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USA nuclear firms worried about becoming liable for nuclear accident costs

Lawmakers in New Delhi approved a bill last night that makes suppliers and builders of atomic reactors potentially liable in the event of an accident…..None of India’s biggest prospective suppliers, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy or Westinghouse Electric, are likely to sign contracts if they can be held liable for third-party damages,

India Risks Nuclear Power Isolation With Break From Post-Chernobyl Accord, Bloomberg, By Natalie Obiko Pearson – Aug 26, 2010 India’s push to end a three-decade ban on buying nuclear equipment from abroad may founder on laws passed by its own parliament.

Lawmakers in New Delhi approved a bill last night that makes suppliers and builders of atomic reactors potentially liable in the event of an accident. That’s broader than a 1997 accord signed by more than 80 nations in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster that limits compensation claims to operators.

The bill, intended to open the world’s second-fastest growing atomic energy market by setting a legal framework, may deter companies from bidding for $175 billion of contracts. India needs suppliers including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric Co. to meet its target of boosting nuclear power generation 13-fold by 2030 to drive economic growth………

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling Congress Party had to rewrite the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill to ensure it passed before U.S. President Barack Obama visits India this year. The government, which lacks a majority in parliament, had to insert a clause to allow compensation claims against suppliers to gain enough votes to pass the bill…….

None of India’s biggest prospective suppliers, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy or Westinghouse Electric, are likely to sign contracts if they can be held liable for third-party damages, said the Carnegie Endowment’s Hibbs. GE spokeswoman Deepali Girdhar and Westinghouse spokesman Scott Shaw declined to comment on the legislation.

“Liability agreements were revised after Chernobyl to make crystal clear that the operator is responsible for liability,” said Hibbs by telephone from Berlin. “Firms would not agree to any arrangements which would leave undecided or vague what the operators’ liability were in the case of an accident.”…..

“The method for handling claims and damages is being changed fundamentally,” said Suhaan Mukerji, a New Delhi-based lawyer, who is advising the industry on the bill. “It raises the possibility of disputes between operators and suppliers.”

India Risks Nuclear Power Isolation With Break From Post-Chernobyl Accord – Bloomberg

August 26, 2010 - Posted by | business and costs, India | , , , , , , , , ,

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