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Nuclear insurance pool hits inspection hurdle

Govt agencies feel data sharing by global reinsurers can impact security

Written by George Mathew | Mumbai |
Updated: March 14, 2014 11:50:07 am

The insurance pool for nuclear plants proposed by reinsurer GIC Re has not taken off as the government and its agencies,and international reinsurers are unable to arrive at a consensus on inspection of the facilities.

“GIC Re is still in talks with the government,international reinsurers and other government agencies on the issue of inspection of Indian nuclear plants,for finalising the details,” said GIC Re chairman AK Roy.

Earlier,the state-owned GIC Re — the sole official reinsurer — had mobilised support of almost $78 million from local general insurers for the proposed nuclear insurance pool,which will provide cover to the existing as well as new nuclear installations in the country.

Given that the Nuclear Civil Liability Act provides for a cover of $320 million for operator liability for each event and each plant,GIC Re is seeking the cover for the rest (around $242 million) of the amount from overseas nuclear pools.

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GIC Re is the founder manager and administrator for the proposed nuclear pool. The government has accepted the responsibility of acting as the insurer of last resort for up to $300 million.

Dispelling fears that sharing of confidential data on nuclear plants can impact national security,a senior official of Nuclear Risk Insurers — the nuclear pool of the UK — said that nuclear pools are bound by the confidentiality clause. “All 26 nuclear pools located all over the world have been sharing data with each other for so many years. There hasn’t been any instance of any breach of the confidentiality clause by any entity,’’ said the official.

The proposed pool will cover material damage and the civil liability arising out of any harm to the hot and cold zones of nuclear plants.

The cover limit for both property damage and third-party liability will be decided on the basis of several factors.

Currently,the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is in talks with other state-owned companies like NTPC,BHEL and domestic private players like Reliance,Larsen & Toubro,GVK Power and GMR Energy for setting up nuclear plants.

It is expected that the country will see an investment of $27 billion in 18-20 nuclear plants over the next 15 years. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) recently cleared the contentious Nuclear Liability Clause,paving way for signing of an agreement between NPCIL and Westinghouse of the US.

The clause dilutes the Nuclear Liability Law by which NPCIL will have the right to recourse in case of a nuclear accident.

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