One of the issues raised against deployment of nuclear power is that of the risk of accidents and the subsequent costs of compensation, clean-up and land interdiction.This has been highlighted by the costs associated with the major accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi, which are ongoing.
The international response to these accidents has been to put more focus on protection of nuclear plants against multiple failures, especially loss of ultimate heat sink, but also to look to strengthen the international conventions on third party liability. However, the latter pulls governments back into the compensation process and some see this as a nuclear subsidy. In that context, governments have been putting more emphasis on operators taking out insurance to cover the potential costs.
In this talk, we will look at the current state of the conventions and their adequacy, as well as discuss the role of insurance and how it works across various conventions and jurisdictions. It becomes clear that this can address the balance between government and operator in compensation but that there are limitations, under the current way the conventions work, to how far this can be taken.
Finally, the talk will address how this process could apply if Australia were to move down the nuclear power path.
Dr Ron Cameron works as a consultant on a range of nuclear issues, including advising the British nuclear insurance pool. He was an adviser to the UK government on nuclear new build during 2014-6, after a period of 4 years as Head of the Nuclear Development Division at the OECD NEA. Prior to going overseas, he held senior executive roles in ANSTO, one of which as the Project Director for building the OPAL Research Reactor. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. When not working, he pursues his interests in travelling, photography and running French conversation classes in southern Sydney.