It has been announced that public liability insurance is to be increased from £140 million to £1.2 billion at nuclear sites in the UK. The plans, which are still waiting to be ratified, are designed to make sure that third-parties suffering loss or damage within the within the impact zone of a nuclear accident will have access to appropriate levels of compensation.
Eight years ago, the UK and a number of other signatories to the Paris and Brussels Convention put forward plans to oblige operators to increase the cost to cover €700 million (£588 million). However, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, this was upped to €1.5 billion.
The move was initiated by the UK government “to ensure that more compensation will be available to a larger number of claimants in respect of a broader range of damage” and the new amounts will be phased in over a period of five years once the proposals have been ratified by all the European signatories.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, a provisional date of December 1st has been agreed by the contracting parties. However, this timetable will be reviewed in June.
Meanwhile, responding to the changes to this liability insurance, an EDF spokeswoman said the firm agreed with them as a means of achieving consistency across signatory European states. However, she added that liability in the event of an accident is “only part of the answer”.
She went on to state: “We believe it is far more important to engineer out the risk of an incident than to simply insure against it. Safety is the number one priority for EDF Energy and the nuclear industry and the government protects the taxpayer best by ensuring through regulation that the highest possible standards of construction and operation are maintained with a view to safety.”