Government may have to insure new nuclear power stations

Insurers won’t cover energy companies against the risk of a Chernobyl-style nuclear accident, forcing the government to self insure planned new nuclear power stations, the Times reports.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to set out how the government could insure the proposed new nuclear power stations.

Simon Hobday, a lawyer for Pinsent Masons specialising in the nuclear industry blamed an international agreement signed by the UK in 2004 that force operators to insure against the threat of a nuclear leak.

Cover expanded

Insurance currently must cover £140m per site for up to ten years from when an incident takes place. But this will increase to €700m (£620m) per site for 30 years.

The policy must also be widened to include economic and environmental losses, not just death, personal injury and property damage. The costs of preventing contamination spreading must also be covered.

Mark Tetley, managing director of Nuclear Risk Insurers, said the industry was concerned that a vague definition of terms such as “nuclear damage” and “environmental impairment” left it exposed to the threat of costly future litigation.

Insurers not happy

Simon Carroll, one of six members of the Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board that provides advice to the government said: “The insurance companies are not happy with all of the types of damage that are being discussed or the timescales.”