Financial security for radiological accidents

The Swedish National Debt Office was given a mandate effective 1 January 2022 to assess the financial security for radiological accidents. This means that the Debt Office is to assess whether the nuclear power companies' have sufficient insurance and other security for costs that may arise from an incident at a nuclear power facility or during the transport of radioactive material.

The new assignment comes after amendments to the Paris and Brussels Conventions. These amendments include an extension of the limitation period for personal injury claims to 30 years from the time an accident occurs. To fulfil the requirements of the conventions, a new law and regulation entered into force on 1 January 2022.

Financial security – nuclear power plants and other facilities

Sweden's nuclear power reactors are located at four facilities, of which reactors are in operation at three. The operators must, to the extent possible, have third-party liability insurance to cover its liability in the event of an accident that leads to radioactive damage.

If the insurance does not cover the facility owner's entire obligations (see below), another form of security also needs to be provided. A security may not consist of a property on which nuclear activities are conducted and must – separately or combined with other security – be satisfactory for its purpose.

Facility owners must report third-party liability insurance and other forms of security to the Debt Office, which will then submit that declaration along with a statement of its opinion to the Government for assessment of whether the financial security is sufficient.

What financial security shall be provided for and at what amount is specified below:

  • A facility owner with a nuclear power reactor in operation shall have third-party liability insurance up to an amount equivalent to EUR 1,200 million to the extent possible.

  • A facility owner without a nuclear power reactor in operation shall have third-party liability insurance up to an amount equivalent to EUR 700 million to the extent possible. Facility owners that do not have a nuclear reactor in operation can apply for a lower liability amount. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority will submit its opinion on the application after consultation with the Debt Office. Decisions on a lower amount are made by the Government.

Extended limitation period for personal injury claims

The amendments to the Paris and Brussels Conventions entail, among other things, that the limitation period for personal injury claims has been extended, from 10 years to 30 years from the time of an accident. The types of third-party liability insurance that the market currently offers only partially cover this limitation period.

Therefore, additional financial security is currently needed to cover the facility owner's liability for delayed-onset personal injuries (more than 10 years but within 30 years from the time of the accident). Part of this could consist of supplementary insurance. Otherwise, other forms of security are required.

Financial security for transport

The compensatory liability for damage if a radiological accident occurs during transport may be covered by a special insurance subject to assessment by the Debt Office. Financial security relating to a single transport must be reported to the Debt Office no later than one month before the start of the transport. In this case as well, the Government decides on the insurance and security amounts.