Liability in the event of radiological accidents
As of 1 January 2022, the Debt Office is the agency responsible for ensuring that insurance and additional financial security are in place for the liability of facility owners in the event of radiological accidents. This means that the Debt Office will assess whether reported insurance and additional financial security for accidents at nuclear facilities, or in transporting radioactive material, are adequate and satisfactory for their purpose.
This new assignment has been prompted by amendments to the Paris and Brussels Conventions, which regulate liability in the event of radiological accidents. To fulfil the requirements of the conventions, a new law and regulation entered into force on 1 January 2022.
Radiological damage resulting from an accident
“Radiological damage” refers to events that cause damage as a result of ionising radiation from a nuclear facility or as a result of radioactive properties in nuclear material or nuclear waste. The meaning of “radiological damage” is regulated by the Act (2010:950) on liability and compensation for radiological accidents, encompassing:
- personal injury or property damage,
- an economic loss that is a direct consequence of personal injury or property damage,
- a loss of income not encompassed in the above but which, as a result of a substantial deterioration of the environment, has caused damage to an economic interest that is directly linked to the environment, and
- a cost for restoring the environment or compensating for lost environmental assets, if it is a case of environmental damage that is not insignificant and the measure(s) to which the cost refers has(ve) been approved as reasonable by the authority designated by the Government.
“Radiological damage” also refers to a cost – following a radiological accident or in the event of severe and immediate danger of such an accident – for taking reasonable measures to prevent such damage as above and damage ensuing from such preventive measures.
Extended limitation period for personal injury claims
The amendments to the Paris and Brussels Conventions entail 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 currently offered in the market only partially cover costs for claims during this limitation period.
Therefore, additional financial security is, in many cases, 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).
Liability for radiological accidents
The Act (2010:950) on liability and compensation for radiological accidents regulates the liability of an owner of a nuclear facility (facility owner). A “nuclear facility” can consist of nuclear reactors and also other types of facilities that require a nuclear licence.
The facility owner has strict and unlimited liability for damages for radiological accidents. In the first instance, a facility owner has an obligation to guarantee compensation up to a certain liability amount. The liability amount varies depending on the type of facility, but it may not exceed EUR 1,200 million. In the second instance, the Government shall provide funds up to this amount. When the amount does not suffice for compensation for injured parties following a radiological accident, all Convention States are obliged to provide a further EUR 300 million.
The facility owner’s liability
A facility owner shall, to the extent possible, have third-party liability insurance to cover its liability in the event of an accident that causes radiological damage. If the insurance does not fully cover the facility owner’s liability (see below) or certain types of radiological damage, additional financial security must also be pledged. 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.
The liability amounts for different facilities are as follows:
- EUR 1,200 million for a facility owner with a nuclear reactor in operation.
- EUR 700 million for a facility owner without a nuclear reactor in operation.
The transitional provisions for the Ordinance (2021:1142) on liability and compensation for radiological accidents further regulate the liability amounts. According thereto, the security of a facility owner must refer to an amount in EUR equalling the liability amount in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) that the facility owner held in 2021 pursuant to the repealed Nuclear Liability Act (1968:45). Security must refer to this liability amount until such time as a new liability amount has been decided on and security for the new amount has been approved.
The liability amounts for facilities that facility owners must cover with insurance or other security are listed in Table 1.
|1 Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB has a lower liability amount because they had a lower amount
for facilities in 2021 according to the repealed Act. EUR 70 million is the lowest liability amount for facilities.
|Forsmark Kraftgrupp AB
|Barsebäck Kraft AB
|Studsvik Nuclear AB
|AB Svafo (Ågesta)
|Chalmers Tekniska Högskola AB
|Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (SFR)
|Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (CLAB)
|Cyclife Sweden AB
|Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB
Facility owners must notify the Debt Office of third-party liability insurance and other forms of security, which the Debt Office will then submit along with a statement of its opinion to the Government for assessment of whether the financial security is sufficient.
Facility owners can be granted lower liability
Facility owners that do not have a nuclear reactor in operation can apply to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for a lower liability amount. This amount may be no less than EUR 70 million for facilities and EUR 80 million for transport. The Debt Office shall be given the possibility to comment on such an application prior to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority issuing its opinion to the Government. Decisions on any lower amount are made by the Government.
Financial security for transport
Liability for claims ensuing from a radiological accident during transport may be covered by special insurance. In the same way as for facilities, insurance concerning transport must be supplemented with other financial security if the insurance does not suffice or does not cover all types of damage. Financial security relating to a single transport must be reported to the Debt Office no later than one month prior to the start of such transport. The Debt Office assesses insurance and additional financial security concerning transport.
The liability amount for transport is EUR 700 million. The transitional provisions according to the Ordinance (2021:1142) on liability and compensation for radiological accidents also apply for liability amounts concerning transport. This means that the liability amounts for 2022 are the same as for 2021. The liability amounts for transport that facility owners must cover with insurance or other financial security are listed in Table 2.
1 Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB has a lower liability amount because they had a lower amount for transport in 2021 according to the repealed Act. EUR 80 million is the lowest liability amount for transport.
|Studsvik Nuclear AB
|Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB
|Cyclife Sweden AB
|Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB