Wise News Communique (314.2145)
June 16, 1988
The accident at Chernobyl pointed out very clearly that accidents at nuclear power plants can cause immeasurable damage. The accident at Chernobyl pointed out very clearly that accidents at nuclear power plants can cause immeasurable damage to the environment. How, and to what extent, is this kind of damage compensated?
To address this the Treaty of Paris was concluded and signed in 1964 by the following countries: West Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Sweden, Great Britain, Portugal, Holland, Italy, Norway and Turkey. Under the treaty, operators of nuclear installations could only be held liable for a fixed amount of money in the event of an accident. The reason for limiting the liability is explained in the joint comments in the text of the Treaty: “The very large financial costs, which could be the result of unlimited liability, could severely endanger the development of the nuclear industry.”
The Treaty states further: “There must be a decision as to which part of the damage caused by a nuclear accident should be paid by the operators… and which part should be paid by the victims and finally how much of the compensation should be borne by the Government.” The basic point here is that the victims themselves must bear financial responsibility for a part of the damage done to them, in addition, of course, to having to bear the effects of the accident itself.
Indeed, “…on the one hand the public needs, for legal and psychological reasons, the insurance of certain protection against unknown dangers; on the other hand the development of the nuclear industry must not be obstructed by too heavy a liability.” In other words, liability has to be limited, otherwise the development of nuclear power will be endangered…
Meanwhile, the countries which are members of the Treaty of Paris have worked out, each on its own on a national level, the maximum financial coverage (see chart). But what is clear is that the Treaty is not protecting the victims of a nuclear accident, but the nuclear industry.
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