Canada to bolster nuclear liability laws

11 June 2013

Civil liability for damages from a nuclear accident in Canada will increase from the current CAD75 million ($73 million) to CAD1 billion ($978 million) under proposed changes to legislation.

Oliver CNS June 2013 (NRCan)
Oliver discusses the legislative amendments at the CNS annual conference (Image: NRCan)

Canadian nuclear liability legislation has remained unchanged for the past 40 years, setting the amount of compensation available to address civil damage at CAD75 million.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) in Toronto, natural resources minister Joe Oliver said, "We will bring forward legislation in the coming months to strengthen Canada's nuclear liability regime above most international standards."

In addition to raising compensation to CAD1 billion, the proposed new legislation will broaden the number of categories for which compensation may be sought, as well as improve the procedures for delivering compensation.

It will also maintain the key strengths of existing legislation, including making nuclear operators absolutely and exclusively liable for nuclear damage - meaning there would be no need to prove fault and no one else could be held liable. The new legislation will also enable claims to be made up to 30 years after an accident, up from the current 10 years.

The proposed legislation is expected to be presented to parliament in late 2013.

The country's nuclear industry welcomed Oliver's announcement, with Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) president Heather Kleb commenting, "We have consistently supported an increase in the liability limit. We look forward to participating in the legislative process when it takes place."

She added, "We are proud that no claim has ever been filed under the liability act. This reflects our industry's constant focus on improving safety and performance."

International convention

Canada also intends to ratify the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), Oliver announced. The CSC is an international treaty that sets certain requirements for operator liability for countries that join it.

He said that the country's participation in the convention would bolster Canada's domestic compensation regime by bringing additional funding for compensation provided by member countries up to CAD450 million ($441 million).

Oliver said, "Nuclear energy continues to be a key part of Canada's energy mix and a major contributor to our status as world leader in clean electricity. Our government is committed to a strong and sustainable nuclear industry."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News