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Sunday
Nov272011

Canada's absurdly low insurance rates for nuclear facilities represents a massive subsidy

Pat McNamara puts things in perspective in his book Nuclear Genocide in Canada (Part 4, "Nuclear Costs to Date"):

"Liability Insurance

I was told I would need $3 million in liability insurance to rent a table at the mall to sell my book. A friend was told he would need $3 million in liability insurance to sell his turned wooden bowls at the fall fair. My 18 year-old Toyota pick-up had $2 million in liability insurance.

I can understand the need for this much coverage on a vehicle because of the potential costs involved in a large accident or the possibility of personal injury. But I can't figure out what could possibly happen while my friend and I sat at tables selling bowls and books that could cost us $3 million. 

I gave these examples to put the level of liability insurance required by some of the nuclear fuel cycle facilities into perspective. Cameco's Uranium Conversion facility in Port Hope is situated in the middle of town and in the middle of the harbour on Lake Ontario. Cameco processes large quantities of very dangerous industrial chemicals and radioactive substances; 4-6 million pounds of uranium on site at any given time. Cameco has $4 million in liability insurance on that facility.

Zircatec manufactures fuel rods for nuclear reactors in the middle of a residential area. They also use large quantities of very dangerous substances including beryllium and enriched uranium. Zircatec is only required to have $3 million in liability insurance in place.

It is absurd that these facilities are only required to have the same level of liability insurance as I need to sit at a table in the mall. No business in any other industrial sector can operate with this low level of insurance."