Nuclear Law Committee meeting, June 2023

Updates from the Nuclear Law Committee

The Nuclear Law Committee (NLC) is a group of specialists from the NEA member countries that comprises lawyers, policymakers, academics and technical experts. The NLC met in person and online on 14-15 June 2023 with 59 participants from 25 NEA member countries, the European Commission (EC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and representatives from the nuclear insurance industry, to discuss the committee's activities.

The first day of the meeting included an address by NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, along with updates from the Secretariat, IAEA and EC on matters of special interest to the NLC. In addition, the Chair of the third meeting of the Parties and Signatories to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) reported on the 6-8 June 2023 CSC meeting and the Japanese delegation informed the NLC on the status of lawsuits for compensation for nuclear damage in Japan regarding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.

The second day of the meeting featured a session that looked at ways to evolve the NLC and its working parties to meet member country needs in the years to come. Looking specifically at current conditions and opportunities for progress, the delegations met in breakout sessions to analyse and discuss specific topics, which were then presented to the NLC in plenary session.

In addition, the second day also included reports on the latest national developments in nuclear law in Canada, France and Poland, as well as an update on the activities of the NLC working parties: the Working Party on the Legal Aspects of Nuclear Safety (WPLANS), the Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Transport (WPNLT) and the Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities  (WPLDF). A topical session on the reciprocity principle under the nuclear liability conventions was organised to examine the reciprocity requirements provided in the conventions and national legislation. An expert from the nuclear insurance industry updated the NLC on the practical impact of the situation in Ukraine on nuclear liability insurance.

The CPPC Chair provided a summary report of the CPPC meeting held on 14 June 2023 and the Secretariat updated the NLC on the activities of the CPPC-related working groups. The Secretariat also informed the NLC of the procedures to appoint the judges for the 11th mandate of the European Nuclear Energy Tribunal, which will begin on 1 January 2025.

Finally, the Secretariat reported on two new nuclear law initiatives. The first is the creation of a fifth working group under the NEA Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy on re-establishing nuclear law education programmes. The second is the new Women in Nuclear Law Initiative (WiNLI), which was launched in early 2023 under the framework of the partnership between Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global and the NEA.

Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention (CPPC)

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The Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (CPPC) met in person and online on 14 June 2023. With 15 participants from 9 countries, the Contracting Parties provided an update on their respective national legislative and administrative processes and the status of financial securities a year and a half after the entry into force of the 2004 Protocols (1 January 2022), with a particular focus on the remaining actions to be undertaken. The meeting also featured a presentation on national developments regarding nuclear liability in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Contracting Parties discussed several nuclear liability-related matters that touch upon the operation and interpretation of the Paris and Brussels Supplementary Conventions.

A total of 16 countries are parties to the Paris Convention, covering 94 operating reactors and 7 under construction out of a total of 410 operating reactors worldwide and 57 under construction. Of those countries, 13 are also parties to the Brussels Supplementary Convention.

Latest developments in nuclear liability and transport

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The NEA Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Transport (WPNLT) met in person and online on 13 June 2023 to discuss and review its ongoing work on the practical challenges related to the nuclear liability regimes applicable to transport and transit of nuclear substances.

The WPNLT was established in 2016 to examine issues relating to the interpretation and application of international nuclear liability instruments to nuclear transport. The working party promotes the exchange of legal information relating to nuclear liability as applicable to nuclear transport and the sharing of related experience among member countries.

The group’s first physical meeting since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic was held with 30 participants from 14 NEA member countries, the European Commission (EC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and representatives from the nuclear insurance industry. Representatives of the International Nuclear Law Association (INLA) and the World Nuclear Association (WNA) also participated to report on their activities related to nuclear transport.

The working party continued discussing the challenges related to the qualification of nuclear substances to be transported, with a report by the Secretariat on the follow-up actions undertaken after the WPNLT Workshop on the Qualification of Nuclear Substances and Nuclear Liability Held on 29-30 March 2021. The agenda featured a topical session on geographical overlap of the nuclear liability conventions in case of international transport, during which members analysed the issue of cumulative application of nuclear liability conventions from different perspectives, including international, national, practical and insurance.

Participants also exchanged on the considerations for the deployment of floating nuclear power plants relevant to nuclear transport. The Secretariat provided a status update on country sheets on national legislation and rules applicable to nuclear transport and transit and the results of WPNLT case studies.

See also