US trade group for absolute liability for n-plant operators

"These principles are basic to international best practices as reflected in the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC)," the US India Business Council (USIBC) said Monday. "Virtually all other countries around the world with civilian nuclear programmes have adopted such legislation to provide protection to their citizens, while facilitating nuclear commerce," said the group representing 300 top US companies doing business with India.

"A nuclear liability regime consistent with the CSC will safeguard the Indian public interest by delivering swift, certain and adequate compensation in the unlikely event of an accident," USIBC said in preliminary comments on civil nuclear liability legislation passed by the Indian Parliament Monday.

"It will also attract to India the most responsible international suppliers, and integrate Indian industry into the global commercial nuclear supply chain," said the group describing itself as "one of the strongest advocates of enabling civil nuclear cooperation with India." "The absence of an effective, CSC-compliant liability regime could preclude involvement by the private sector - both Indian and foreign - and stymie India's multi-year effort to develop civil nuclear power," the group warned.

USIBC said it was reviewing the Indian legislation and would seek clarification from the Government of India on whether and how Indian and foreign suppliers can move forward with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to vitalise India's nuclear power sector

The trade group had taken a position from the outset that is consistent with the position stated publicly by India's nuclear operator, NPCIL, and supported by major Indian business associations and commercial nuclear suppliers, it said. This calls for "absolute and exclusive liability must be channelled to operators of nuclear power plants, and that a sole remedy must be established for compensation of claims," USIBC said.

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