In a move that could open up India as a major market for the U.S. nuclear power industry, India presented its instrument of ratification Thursday of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage with international regulators in Vienna.
The instrument was submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a regulatory agency within the United Nations. When it enters into force, it will shift the baseline liability from suppliers to operators in the event of a nuclear accident. The lack of such guarantees caused U.S. nuclear power plant construction companies and designers to balk at the idea of doing business in India.
Considering the size of its market, India had been considered a rogue standout, resisting the international zeitgeist that expects liability to be a responsibility of nuclear plant operators.
India's ambassador to Austria and permanent IAEA liaison Rajiva Mistra delivered the instrument of ratification to Juan Carlos Lentijo, the agency's acting director general and nuclear safety and security department head.
The CSC is intended to provide greater coverage in the event of a nuclear accident with rates linked to the size of a power plant's installed capacity combined with a United Nations rating assessment.
India, in 2015, capped supplier liability at $225 million.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, quoted by the World Nuclear Association, said the inclusion of India in the international convention was a “crucial step” for U.S. businesses. “I welcome India to the CSC and look forward to their deployment of civil nuclear energy technologies to help provide reliable, low-cost power to millions of Indians,” he said.
In recent years, while U.S. companies balked, other countries have taken steps to help India power up its nuclear energy ambitions. Russia is building six nuclear power plants in southern India and is discussing the possibility of building six more. France and India recently signed a memorandum of understanding that will lead to six reactors to be built in Jaitapur on India's west coast. The accord was a reworked pact first signed by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010.
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