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EMF Studies

05 January 2017

Nuclear Industry Wants No Responsibility for Reactor Accidents

by Vic Macks, athf3 admin, 2 January 2017

The nuclear reactor industry is pushing hard for global indemnification against financial risk from nuclear accidents and is, in the case of GE-Hitachi, holding back from building 6 new ESBWR reactors (a new, untested design) in India without that indemnification. For its part, India does not want to commit to the project without an operating ESBWR “reference” reactor. Enter DTE (Detroit Edison) and its license to build and operate Fermi 3 a GE-Hitachi ESBWR reactor; the future of which is uncertain and we hope will not be built.

If the nuclear reactor industry does not think its product is safe and recognizes that the financial loss it would incur in an accident is unsustainable, why should we the public, the victims accept the consequent illness, morbidity, genetic mutations, financial loss, and permanent displacement?

The U.S. nuclear power industry would not exist and no commercial nuclear reactors would have been built without the indemnification, of the reactor suppliers and owners, provided by the Price-Anderson Act of 1957, as renewed in 2005. Private money would not provide adequate insurance to reactor suppliers and owners, recognizing the level of risk posed by nuclear reactors, and the catastrophic damage to the public that occurs in nuclear accidents.

The moral hazard of U.S. Government financed indemnification of the commercial nuclear industry against liability for catastrophic public injury and loss is that it results in less safe design and operation of reactors.

The Price-Anderson Act is a singular protection of the nuclear industry; something not available to other industries. It protects the most dangerous commercial activity in the world——nuclear reactor suppliers and operators——and allows them to continue making profit in the midst of permanently poisoning people and the biosphere. It leaves the public unprotected. It is a sinister and unparalleled failure of government—-outside of the awareness of most of the public——to protect its citizens.

DTE (Detroit Edison) has been granted a license to build and operate a new nuclear reactor, Fermi 3, a GE-Hitachi “Economically Simplified Boiling Water Reactor” (ESBWR). However, the issuance of that license by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is being challenged in the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC by a coalition — including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste MI, and Sierra Club MI Chapter —that has resisted Fermi 3 since 2008. It has been joined by additional allies, such as the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, as well as Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two, and others.

This, in turn, has implications for GE-Hitachi’s plans being held up in India where it wants to build 6 ESBWR reactors. India wants an operating “reference reactor” before committing to building 6 in India. And on its part GE-Hitachi wants expanded global indemnification before building the reactors in India. See the article in the India news paper, The Tribune “GE concern over ‘lack’ of sustainable N-regulatory environ” http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/ge-concerned-over-lack-of-sustainable-n-regulatory-environ/341612.html

This is occurring in the context of a strong effort by the nuclear industry and governments to ratify a global indemnification of nuclear reactor suppliers and operators in a Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). That effort is documented in “Running from Responsibility-How the nuclear industry evades responsibility” http://www.greenpeace.org/korea/Global/korea/publications/reports/climate-energy/2014/mar-2014-running-from-responsibility-eng.pdf

Quoting from that document: “Nuclear suppliers have exerted major pressure since the beginning of the industry to be exempt from liability. They want this protection because they fear the enormous costs of a nuclear accident and don’t want to pay for the risks their products create.

At present, they don’t have the level of protection they want, so they are now in a desperate scramble since the Fukushima disaster to fill in any gaps in their protections. They want to prevent anything that might allow the nuclear operator or nuclear victims to seek compensation from them in the event of a nuclear disaster.

The companies that supply reactors and other nuclear equipment, such as GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, clearly care for their company assets first, and have little regard for the victims of accidents that could be caused by their products.

These nuclear supplier companies do not believe their reactors are safe, in sharp contrast to their sales pitches, or else they wouldn’t lobby so hard for national liability indemnification and the protections offered by the CSC….”

The public is left with the need to speak clearly and effectively on its behalf and recognize that its own government is, along with reactor suppliers and operators, a serious threat to public safety and survival.

Written by Vic Macks, member Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 http://www.athf3.org
20318 Edmunton St.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
Posted here by Art Myatt

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