Canada set to raise nuclear liability cap

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The Pickering Nuclear Power Plant
The Pickering Nuclear Power Plant

In Canada, officials are working to submit legislative plans to increase the amount in damages Canadian operators of nuclear power plants would be responsible for in case of a nuclear accident, as well as increase the number of categories under which compensation could be sought and improve the procedures for delivering compensation.  Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has committed publicly to making plans to increase the liability cap for the nuclear industry.  “Tomorrow, we will announce our commitment to increase nuclear civil liability in our efforts to protect the taxpayer and the safety of all Canadians,” Oliver said in a statement.  “Most importantly, it will continue to require that the liability of the operator be absolute and exclusive. This means there is no need to prove fault and no one else can be held liable,” he added.

Currently, the liability cap in Canada is set at C$75 million ($73 million USD); a figure which is generally considered “outdated” at best, but could be raised to C$1 billion ($980 million USD).  Previously, legislators in Canada have submitted legislation in the past attempting to increase the forty-year-old limit to $650 million and giving the minister power to increase the cap in the future, but have been unable to pass such legislation every time.

In 2011, Joel Wood, a senior research economist at the Fraser Institute wrote in his analysis, “Increasing the cap only decreases the subsidy; it does not eliminate it. The government of Canada should proceed with legislation that removes the liability cap entirely rather than legislation that maintains it, or increases it to be harmonious with other jurisdictions.”

The Canadian Environmental Law Association said the C$1 billion cap is too low. Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan told Reuters the new legislation also makes no provision for third party liability, which means suppliers cannot be held accountable.

Environmentalists in Canada have argued that if the nuclear industry was as safe as they claim to be there would be no need for any liability caps and that anything less than unlimited liability equals a subsidy for the nuclear industry, but nuclear proponents have warned that unlimited liability could lead utilities involved in operations of nuclear facilities to walk away from the industry and leave governments on the hook.

Historically, observational evidence has shown that nuclear incidents are generally rather small, let’s call them nuclear accidents, which cost a few million to fix and clean-up, or extremely enormous nuclear disasters easily capable of racking up tens of billions of dollars in costs and economic fallout. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan is a recent example of a nuclear disaster which led to tens of billions of dollars in damage claims and has shown that no private organization can suffer costs which continue to pile up for decades.

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  1. The province I live in have no nuclear power plants, so why are we insuring other provinces plants. The provinces that have plants must cover the $1BILLION PER PLANT insurance not cover all plants at a SITE to $1BILLION, other wise Fukushima with 4 plants and more would only pay $1BILLION. This will also create multiple plants per SITE to reduce the risk per plant.

    1. “The province I live in have no nuclear power plants” I do assume you mean BC, Mr. Perry.


      If you live within 100km of the border, as most Canadians do, you are indeed a “down-winder”. If you live in the shadow of a coal-burning plant, you are a “down-winder” anyway.

      Well, that is, until the experimental Fusion Reactor is constructed and begins operation. What; you didn’t know?

      “The company hopes to have a prototype operating by early 2015, and a working reactor by 2020.”

      “He notes that General Fusion will be holding an important physics test this summer” [2012] ” of their plasma compression device. If all goes well, it’s likely to change the global fusion mindset.”
      quoted from:
      General Fusion Inc. 108–3680 Bonneville Place. Burnaby, BC V3N 4T5

      I still have no data on where this facility is to be located, yet i do so hope they avoid the Fraser Valley which is prone to seismic events.
      “Richardson does not believe that fusion is a dangerous process. “Fusion is fundamentally, inherently failsafe,” he said. “I plan to be standing right next to it, so I’m not worried about that whatsoever.” Richardson said General Fusion is still three years away from actually attempting a fusion reaction, and would not make the attempt in its current location on the Lougheed Highway, near the SkyTrain transit line and large residential neighbourhoods.
      There are also questions as to whether or not an actual fusion reaction could legally occur in B.C. because the province has a ban on nuclear energy. General Fusion’s business licence in Burnaby is for research and development of alternative energy. The company acknowledges that, in addition to its scientific challenges, there are formidable regulatory hurdles to clear before it can try to fire up its fusion reactor.”
      quoted from:

      “Burnaby’s assistant fire chief in charge of inspections, Dan Kilpatrick, says his department’s inspectors have asked to be informed when the plasma injector is fired up.
      Earlier this week, a CBC News investigation revealed concerns over the prototype nuclear fusion reactor being developed in the heart of Burnaby. A senior UBC physicist has warned the final design, which is still two to three years from being built, could explode.”
      quoted from:

      I do hope this is an answer to “nuke-puke”, yet i hope with baited breath knowing the dismal track record of industry when “SHTF”. Hence, perhaps the need to broaden the scope of this legislation to include other kinds of nuclear plants.
      Note that TRIUMF intends to start producing medical isotopes using cyclotron radiation. Are those facilities covered under this legislation?

  2. So they have raised the liability limit from “sweet f. all” to an unenforceable pittance, which ultimately, all peoples in Canada are financially responsible for anyway.

    I think such negligence should require the return of the death penalty.
    I’m not kidding.

    Maybe, they will never need this legislation anyway considering how “Hell-th Candu” raised radionuclide limits over the past few years well beyond that of a linear-no-dose threshold and into the realm of shear stupidity.

    Everything “Hell-th Canada” does from now on is suspect in my eyes.
    I don’t trust them with my health. They have other things in mind; not my health.
    When will fish testing start? Oh yeah, it matters not; they won’t truthfully release results anyway!
    They don’t allow truthful release of information in accordance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; at least not publicly to Canadians.

    And what of the BS that happened in Peterborough, Ontario?
    No arrests, no compensation, no teeth to this law at all in my humble estimation.
    Tritium Unlimited, indeed.
    Radioactive Tritium – CNSC Gives Industry A Licence To Pollute (April 11 2012)
    Excessive Tritium Emissions prompt groups to demand shut-down (April 20 2012)
    Peterborough Pollution: Tritium in the Twilight Zone (Sept 08 2012)

    Nuclear Regulator Allows ‘Tritium Unlimited’ (Sept 15 2012)

    I remember Stompin’ Tom Conners; he was from Peterborough, along with some of my now-deceased relatives.

    CCNR Submission to the CNSC
    (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission)
    opposing the extended operation
    of the Pickering reactors
    A Chernobyl in Canada, it could happen…

    Respectfully, i disagree with the caption of that article by Dr. Gordon Edwards.
    Chernobyl was a completely different reactor design, yet the effect could be far worse. Perhaps loosely akin to Fukushima, less the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
    Evacuation could kill more people than the radionuclides would likely immediately kill.

    Has anyone asked about local readiness concerning Emergency Services and the training/equipment required?

    “On March 16th, 73,000 litres of tritium laced de-mineralized water, in a leak caused by a faulty pump seal, poured into Lake Ontario from Pickering’s Nuclear Power Station. According to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal agency tasked with protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment, “The radiological risk to the environment and people’s health is negligible”.

    The nuclear industry and its governmental regulatory agencies in Canada have a long track record of relying on engineering expertise to minimize the perception of accidents, but do they have any plans or experience in disaster control? The Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article, titled ‘Canada Ill-Prepared for Radiation Emergencies,” on June 14th 2011. There, the author’s state that “Most Canadian hospitals are ill-prepared to handle the surge of patients that could result from a large-scale radiation emergency… The ongoing radiation threat in Japan, the result of damage to a nuclear power plant during the country’s recent earthquake, has rekindled concerns about the lackadaisical approach to preparing for such an event in Canada.””
    quoted from:
    Yes, it was indeed the earthquake and damage to not just the Daichi facilities, that started Japan upon their precarious downward spiral they are encountering now. Totalitarianism is likely just around the corner.

    How about questioning the intent of such organizations concerning the waste generated?
    Nuclear proponents can hang on that one, considering they all walk away eventually anyway, leaving, you guessed it, the “taxpayer” on the hook for the “cleanup” (see Hanford, see Gentilly).

    I think that if this license is renewed, it should only be if those on the panel and the operators themselves live within a couple of kilometers of this plant with their families. They won’t do it, though. They know how statistics are for those that live around these “nuke-puke” factories.

    How many more relatives must i bury because of this BS?

    Thank you for this article, Mr. Hixson. I appreciate that you are shining a light upon this subject.
    Shine on that light of truth.

  3. Ratepayers want low cost, SAFE energy and Solar is now ready to provide it.

    There are only three things standing in the way of FIXING our energy problem:

    Our powerful Utilities, who want to keep us in Energy Slavery, so that we will be forced to purchase our energy from them instead of producing it ourselves for FREE (after the initial payback).

    Our appointed regulators, who have a too cozy relationship with the very Utilities they regulate! They have been putting Utility shareholder profits ahead of following their sworn mandate and demanding that our “public” utilities provide energy to US at the lowest cost possible! Example: Why should Utilities be allowed to rip off residential solar panel owners by not reimburse them for the energy they add to the grid at the very same rate that the Utility pays itself when it adds energy to the grid? This would “level” the energy playing field and greatly reduce the payback periods of owning your own panels, which would make installing solar even a better deal!

    Our Political Leaders are beholden to the Powerful Utilities because of large Utility donations and have been until recently hesitant to propose changes to “how the energy game is played” but now with a shrinking economy, the public resistance to ever higher energy costs and record Utility shareholder profits, energy is becoming a HOT political issue that Political Leaders cannot ignore any longer, if they want to stay in office or get elected.

  4. Fukushima proved that nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!

    Since Fukushima is a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster, raising limitations to only 1 billion is N☢ solution the the HUGE RISK that every nuclear reactor poses to mankind.

    Ask The Japanese!

  5. The real questions all Canadians need to be asking is if one of their nuclear reactors melts down like Fukushima and caused a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster, where will all the money come from to pay for that, even if the Utility has a 1 Billion dollar insurance plan?

    I tis like have a $1,000 dollar insurance policy on your $50,000 vehicle which might be destroyed in an accident costing your $300,000, that you cannot afford to pay; in short you will lose everything…………

    Remember there is a reason that Big Insurance Companies will not insure nuclear reactors, it is because it is a bad risk!

    Check your own policy for nuclear exclusions…

  6. I truly don’t see the point in doing this. It’s rather obvious that anything but a very minor accident is going to exceed the liability and the taxpayers will pick up the tab anyway. And what does it cost to dismantle these things? While there is something to be said for living in the moment and today, even that needs to be tempered by good sense. Is it just to comfort the minds of the deluded? And just what good is it when one just uses the money to relocate and to bury their dead?

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