Attempts to insure operating nuclear plants in India
According to the Business Standard newspaper, currently, India’s atomic reactors are insured only until the time they are not operational. As soon as the fission material is fired into the reactors, the insurance cover ends Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) bears the responsibility of any damages. As NPCIL goes to raise money from domestic and international sources for its aggressive new build, this lack of cover may some inhibit investors, in the view of the India Expert.
One issue that prevents insurance was existing Indian government guidelines that bar inspection or survey of nuclear facilities; this may changes for “safeguarded” reactors where the country will permit IAEA inspection and may by extension allow insurance visits as well. The paper goes on to say that there also have been efforts by NPCIL to insure assets without the required survey for operational risks but insurance companies have not responded to this call. Analysts also say, due to the very high liability in case of an accident, that insurance companies do not want to insure nuclear assets without due diligence. Also, due to the high risk involved, nuclear insurance pools have evolved internationally that collectively reinsure the nuclear assets. Highly specialized nuclear risk underwriters inspect the facilities to ascertain the risks.
What this means:
This issue may circle back to the concerns of some OEM plant technology owners relating to India’s nuclear liability law. Insurance may be a need that causes India to revisit the regulations governing the implementation of the law passed by India’s parliament in 2010.
“Given the experiences from the tragedies at Bhopal, Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is very clear that the exposure to liabilities is very high. To cover those and ensure proper and timely compensation, taking a protective cover is essential,” said Anuraag Sunder, principal consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers