OPG seeks Liability Limit of CDN $75 Million

August 31, 2002 – INVERHURON, Ontario – IR 2002-12

OPG seeks Liability Limit of Can $75 Million
to cover Huge Great Lakes Nuclear Waste Storage Site
Comparisons between Canadian and U-S Nuclear Site Insurance are Chilling!

Is Can $75 million a reasonable liability limit for the potential risk involved in storing 18,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste on the shoreline of Lake Huron? That’s essentially what Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), will discuss during a one-day public hearing on September 13th in Ottawa.

The hearing has been called to examine OPG’s application to the regulator to designate its Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce nuclear complex on the Lake Huron shoreline as a “nuclear installation” under Canada’s Nuclear Liability Act (NLA). The WWMF is already the centralized site for low and medium level nuclear waste for 20 of Canada’s 22 reactors. This fall, the newest WWMF addition, a high level, above ground waste storage facility for used reactor fuel from the Bruce site, is slated to start operations. The NLA establishes Can $75 million (U-S $48 million) as the liability limit for Canadian nuclear installations. The required insurance is commercially available.

U-S nuclear site insurance levels much higher
By contrast, the American Price Anderson Act (PAA) requires approximately U-S $9.0 Billion (Can $14.1 Billion) be available in combined, industry-funded insurance to cover any accident at U-S nuclear installations (including, according to NRC officials, those caused by acts of terrorism). To reach $9.0 Billion, each reactor facility licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must carry U-S $200 million in primary insurance. As well, operators of licensed reactors must be prepared to pay up to an additional U-S $83.9 million per reactor toward the cost of any accident at any sister site. There are 105 licensed reactors in the USA, 102 of which are operating at present.

The mandated Canadian insurance coverage of Can $75 million per installation is about ½ of 1% of the U-S PAA coverage and may exclude acts of terrorism (see link below). The $75 million covers a complete nuclear installation, whether it has one reactor or several, a small amount of nuclear waste or 18,000 tons, the amount officials project will be moved from rapidly filling “cooling pools” at the Bruce reactor buildings into the new high level, above ground storage facility at the WWMF. (When that waste is moved into the WWMF, space in the pools will become available for another 18,000 tons of nuclear waste, the amount likely to be generated by the Bruce reactors over the next 20 years. That will make a total of 36,000 tons of high-level waste at the Bruce site alone, almost half the announced tonnage of nuclear waste going into Yucca Mountain.)

The Bruce nuclear complex is 50 miles/85 kilometers across Lake Huron from the Michigan shoreline and 150 miles from Detroit. It is the largest installation of its kind on the planet.

The Bruce Centre has prepared a PAA-NLA comparison chart and a set of detailed notes, along with links to the acts themselves. [Find this chart!]

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