Nuclear energy liability

The fully revised Nuclear Energy Liability legislation and the revised Paris and Brussels Conventions on third-party liability in the field of nuclear energy came into force on 1 January 2022. This will improve victim protection in the event of serious nuclear accidents, and harmonise and simplify compensation procedures internationally.

Liability

Under the Federal Nuclear Energy Liability Act, operators of nuclear installations bear unlimited liability for nuclear damage arising from the operation of their installations or the related transport of nuclear material. For damage relating to nuclear material in transit, the owner of the foreign nuclear installation is liable.

Compensation

Nuclear damage is covered by insurance up to the amount of EUR 1.2 billion. In the event of damage, this insurance cover is supplemented by an amount of EUR 300 million, which is paid by the Contracting States to the Brussels Supplementary Convention. In total, EUR 1.5 billion (plus EUR 120 million for interest and court-awarded costs) are now available to cover nuclear damage. For damage in excess of this sum, operators of nuclear installations are liable without limitation with all their assets.

Nuclear research facilities and the federal government’s interim storage facility, as well as certain nuclear material transportations are insured for EUR 70 and 80 million, respectively (plus 10% for interest and court-awarded costs in each case).

Insurance provider

Insurance coverage is primarily provided by private insurance companies. Risks that private insurers cannot cover or are unable to cover in full will be covered by the federal government. In such cases, operators are required to pay a premium into the Federal Nuclear Damage Fund.

Large-scale damage

If all the available funds do not suffice to cover incurred nuclear damage or if the ordinary procedure cannot be carried out due to the large number of injured parties, a situation of large-scale damage is declared. In this case, Parliament may specify a compensation plan for the just distribution of the available funds and, if necessary, stipulate that the federal government may award additional contributions to compensate uncovered damage.

International

Switzerland has ratified the two nuclear energy liability conventions of Paris and Brussels (both in the revised version of 2004). At the beginning of 2022, Switzerland will also ratify the Joint Protocol. This will come into force for Switzerland three months later.

It concluded a bilateral agreement with Germany on third-party liability in the field of nuclear energy in 1986, which provides for equal treatment for citizens of both countries.

Law

Exclusion of nuclear installations in the process of being decommissioned from the Application of the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability [NEA/NE(2014)14/REV1]

Exclusion des installations nucléaires en cours de déclassement du champ d’application de la Convention de Paris sur la responsabilité civile [NEA/NE(2014)14/REV1]

Exclusion of nuclear installations for the disposal of certain types of low-level radioactive waste [NEA/NE(2016)7/FINAL]

Possibilité d’exclusion des installations nucléaires de stockage de certaines catégories de déchets radioactifs de faible activité [NEA/NE(2016)7/FINAL]

Exclusion of Small Quantities of Nuclear Substances outside a Nuclear Installation from the Application of the Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy [NEA/NE(2016)8/FINAL]

Exclusion de petites quantités de substances nucléaires en dehors d’une installation nucléaire du champ d’application de la Convention sur la responsabilité civile dans le domaine de l’énergie nucléaire [NEA/NE(2016)8/FINAL]

Exclusion of Certain Kinds of Nuclear Substances [NE/M(77)2]
Annex 3, Appendix to the Decision of the Steering Committee concerning the Decisions, Recommendations and Interpretations applicable to the Paris Convention as amended by the 2004 Protocol,  item 4 (page 27)

Exclusion de certaines catégories de substances nucléaires [NE/M(77)2]
Annex 3, Appendice à la Décision du Comité de Direction concernant les Décisions, Recommandations et Interprétation applicables à la Convention de Paris telle que modifiée par le Protocole de 2004, chiffre 4 (page 28)

Last modification 19.05.2022

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