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Off the hook: UK government absolves nuclear operators from accident liability

It’s as we suspected”, says the Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, expressing his disappointment that once more the UK Government is providing a subsidy to the nuclear industry by absolving operators of the need to pay compensation in the event of an accident.

In a letter to Energy Minister Lord Callanan, Councillor David Blackburn asked how nuclear operators, at present French-owned EDF Energy, would be expected to comply with the requirements of the revised provisions of the Paris Convention that they pay out up to 700 million Euro in damages after an accident, whether through taking out insurance with private-sector underwriters to pay the compensation in the event of an accident or by setting aside funds in an escrow account. This liability will increase by a further 100 million Euro in each of the next five years.

In the letter, Cllr Blackburn also expressed the NFLA’s fears that the UK Government would provide a taxpayer funded bailout for the industry by taking on the liability itself, and Lord Callanan’s reply, citing an immature insurance market, makes it clear that this will indeed be the case: ‘the Government has agreed initially to provide an indemnity, for an economic charge, to cover increased personal injury liabilities for the 10-to-30-year period’.

Commenting Councillor Blackburn said: “This is yet another example of a situation in which nuclear enjoys the benefit of a public subsidy.

“Exactly like the situation with the Nuclear Liabilities Fund, where taxpayers pick up the tab for the cost of decommissioning, which in the last two financial years has meant a further £10.7 billion of public money going to the Fund, the poor suffering British taxpayer will have to shell out up to 1.2 billion Euros, that should be paid by the industry, in the event of a nuclear accident.

“By accepting liability, the government is de-risking nuclear operations. And EDF Energy and its ultimate owner, France, are laughing – they can dodge the liability and walk away scot-free if calamity strikes”.

The NFLA has now sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act seeking further details of the so-called ‘economic charge’ paid by nuclear operator EDF Energy to allow them to evade their legal responsibilities.


October 19, 2022 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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