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EDF Energy response to third party liability rise.

THE Government's decision to hugely increase the liability of firms running Britain's nuclear sites has led to a swift response from one of the main players in the industry.

EDF Energy, which runs the Hartlepool nuclear power station, says it will be reviewing the Government consultation launched yesterday on third party liability.

A spokesman said the issue was wider than just insurance cover.

"Liability in the event of an incident is only part of the answer," he said. "We believe it is far more important to engineer out the risk of an incident than to simply insure against it.

"The Government protects the taxpayer best by ensuring through regulation that the highest possible standards of construction and operation are maintained with a view to safety, which is the number one priority for EDF Energy and the nuclear industry."

EDF Energy have never made any claims on their insurance for a nuclear incident.

Under the proposed new arrangements, nuclear operators will need to meet third party liabilities covering a far broader scope of liability than at the moment, including economic losses resulting from an accident, damage to the environment, loss of use and enjoyment of the environment, and a higher limit of operator liability.

The spokesman continued: "This is not the only sector where capped or strict liability applies.

"Other examples with capped liability include the airline industry and others with strict liability include the pharmaceutical industry.

"However, the requirement on the nuclear industry to provide ring fenced financial security for off site third party liability is uniquely stringent.

"It means that in contrast to most industries, the financial security that nuclear operators are required to provide must be ring fenced and so available to third parties even if the underlying event results in the operator going bankrupt."

EDF says that as they analyse the consultation, they will particularly look at the availability of such insurance cover at the new level, what other countries are doing to meet the international arrangements, and how it all compares with arrangements for other industries -particular oil and gas.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2011
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