PR:Nuclear Liability - Mission Impossible for State Administration

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=> CZECH version of this press release

Press release dated August 21, 2017

Nuclear Liability - Mission Impossible for State Administration

The governmental task stipulated in the National Action Plan for the Development of Nuclear Energy in the Czech Republic - to accede to the Supplementary Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage from January 1, 2017 - remains unfulfilled [1]. This also follows from the Annual Report on the Activities of the Permanent Nuclear Energy Committee, which the Government has taken note of. The Czech Republic has signed this updated international treaty but has not yet ratified it.

CEZ has limited liability for nuclear damages in Dukovany or Temelin NPPs only up to CZK 8 billion, and has to be insured to only CZK 2 billion [2]. This Supplementary Protocol calls for a minimum liability amount of 300 million SDRs (Special Drawing Rights). Based on the currency exchange rates calculator, the figures should be higher by several billion crowns than is set out in the Czech law. For example, on August 21, 2017 (Czech National Bank currency exchange rate is 1 SDR = CZK 31,264), therefore the minimum liability should be CZK 9.4 billion.

The mere increase in the liability limit, as much as it is a mission impossible for the Ministry of Industry and Trade [3], does not address the essence of the problem - nuclear power plant operators should, according to Calla, be fully liable for nuclear damages that may be the same as those incurred by owners of other industrial plants. As a result of this indirect support today, nuclear power plants operators receive a competitive advantage in the electricity market.

The Fukushima crash has shown how inadequate CZK 8 billion are against the nuclear damage that can actually occur. According to the Japanese Center for Economic Research, Japan will pay CZK 10 trillion for underestimation of the safety [4]. The Belarusian government estimated Chernobyl nuclear damage to CZK 4.6 trillion [5]. And according to the French Institute for Nuclear Safety (IRSN), a severe accident at the nuclear power plant could be very expensive - up to CZK 10.9 trillion [6].

Edvard Sequens, energy consultant of Calla – Association for Preservation of the Environment, said: "It is strange how the Czech state administration is preventing us from preparing for the ratification of the agreement that we have signed and which will bring greater protection to our citizens in particular. So, while CEZ is insuring its own nuclear assets worth up to tens of billions of dollars, residents and businesses in the neighborhood would receive only a fraction of that amount."

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  1. The unfulfilled measure is as follows: "Prepare the conditions for the accession of the Czech Republic to the 1997 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (1997) and 1997 respectively, together with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage of 1997, so that the Czech Republic Of this Convention on 1st January 2017. Responsible: Ministry of the Industry and Trade. Deadline: Until 31st December 2016."
  2. Act No. 18/1997 Coll. on Peaceful Utilisation of Nuclear Energy and Ionising Radiation (Atomic Act). Although the new Atomic Act is already in force, the State Office for Nuclear Safety (the regulator SONS) has left these unpleasant issues of liability for nuclear damage unsolved in the original Atomic Act.
  3. Minister of Industry and Trade, Martin Říman, has already failed in that the Government (Resolution No. 258 of 17th March 2008) did not ensure the ratification of the Vienna Convention on 1st January 2009 and the adoption of the so-called Paris Convention, which would mean that mandatory insurance would be raised to CZK 18.5 billion.
  4. Accident Cleanup Costs May Rise to 50-70 Trillion Yen, Japan Center for Economic research, March 7, 2017
  5. Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts and Recommendations to the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, International Atomic Energy Agency, April 2006
  6. Etude IRSN de 2007 sur le coût des accidents nucléaires, IRSN, March 26, 2013
  7. For protection against automatical email address robots searching for addresses to send spam to them this email address has been made unreadable for them. To get a correct mail address you have to displace "AT" by the @-symbol and "DOT" by the dot-character (".").
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