January 30, 2015
Citizens' Statement against Capitulation to
the US on Nuclear Liability
Press Release | Contact:
We are deeply disturbed by media reports that the Indian government has
capitulated to aggressive U.S. demands and agreed to a deal that
indemnifies American nuclear vendors from the consequences of accidents
caused by design defects in their reactors.
Preliminary reports suggest that the government has agreed to create an
insurance pool, backed by public sector companies, so that any potential
American liability can be redirected back to Indian taxpayers. This
creates a “moral hazard”, where the Indian people could end up being
responsible for mistakes made by a multinational corporation.
The 2010 Indian liability Act is already a weak law heavily biased towards
the nuclear industry. It caps the total liability for an accident at a
paltry Rs 1,500 crores and takes away the rights of victims to sue the
supplier. The much-discussed supplier liability is very limited: the
government alone, as the operator, has a right of recourse against the
So, we fail to understand the Modi government's motivation for weakening
this law even further. The U.S. has nothing attractive to offer in terms
of nuclear commerce. The Indian government has agreed to purchase the
AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse, and the Economic Simplified Boiling
Water Reactor (ESBWR) from General Electric. Both these designs are
untested. The ESBWR technology is so immature that the design received
certification from the U.S. nuclear regulatory commission—the first step
before a reactor can be constructed—only last September. Recent reports
suggest that construction of AP1000 units has run into trouble in China.
Independent estimates suggest that the cost of electricity from these
reactors may exceed Rs. 15 per unit. This is much higher than the tariff
from competing sources of electricity.
Therefore, the reality behind the grandiose proclamations made by the
Indian government is rather sobering. India has agreed to pay billions of
dollars for immature American technology, and then ensured that American
companies will not be held to account for any design defects.
We hope that progressive forces and concerned citizens throughout the
country will unite to oppose this disturbing development.
N D Jayaprakash
S P Shukla
S P Udayakumar