I ran across this insightful comment to this post: http://theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/257481/why-power-density-matters#comment-80591
The comment is by: Robert Mitchell
The comment goes into great detail about the costs of insuring nuclear power plants that are left up to the taxpayer rather than, as it should be, to the utilities that utilized Nuclear power. This is just another example of how the market is not a free, fair and transparent market. See more on externalities Here.
In case you cannot find it using the link above you can see the text of it below.
Each nuclear facility is only required to have $375 million in liability coverage. If an accident occurs that causes more damage than that, each of the approximately 104 (I’m not sure about that number with a couple of plants being shuttered), plants being required to pony up about $111.9 million each to cover the excess damage.
If more than 15% of this pool is used, then the matter goes to federal court to prioritize payments. If the damages go beyond this pool’s ability to pay and not become insolvent, then it goes back to Congress and we the tax payer’s will be on the hook.
Also, the insurance isn’t comprehensive in that waste, either stored or in transit isn’t always covered, nor is damage to the plant itself (which in theory will have been paid for by the rate payers) In addition, claims haven’t always been dealt with quickly. Many of those affected by Three Mile Island had to sue to be made whole and some of these suits weren’t completely settled until as late as 2003! http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/funds-fs.html
There are also other issues to consider in regards to this “insurance”. One that hits close to home (approximately 11 miles from my own home) is that the insurance coverage is only based upon a 10 mile evacuation zone. Which considering that the US government itself recommended a 50 mile evacuation zone for the recent fukushima disaster, doesn’t make me feel all that comfortable! The fact that Japan itself (even after raising it’s allowable radioactive exposure limit to 20 times what the US allows) declared areas within 12 miles to be inhabitable to humans, kind of worries me a bit??? (and that doesn’t count the 80 square miles northwest of the plant and beyond the 12 mile permanant exclusion zone).
So, even after raising it’s “acceptable” limit there is still an area of approximately 4500 square miles (about the same size as the state of Connecticut) that exceeds this limit. How would you like to try and sell your home with THAT feature?
But even if you say, “Screw you” to all of those people who live outside of the excusion zones, just the value of the land, businesses, and homes of those inside of the excusion zones has a estimated value of between 250 billion and 500 billion dollars…far exceeding even the 13 billion dollars of liability coverage that US plants now have.
BUT!!! It doesn’t stop there! 40 miles of fisheries off of the Fukushima coast was forced closed and an untold amount of sea life was contaminated and I doubt if anybody cuts those poor creatures a check!
Add that to the misery of over 159,000 people who were evicted from the excusion zones…
WAIT! There’s More! If you order your nuclear power plant today, we’ll include an extra 200 miles of contamination of food stuffs and water! And if you act now, we’ll even throw in biomagnefication so that the benefits of nuclear power can be enjoyed on up the food chain!
The sad thing is that I could go on…and on and on….which goes to show that you are wrong; the nuclear industry is not properly insured even with the backing of the US government.
Nuclear Power’s negative learning curve discussed HERE
Article by American Nuclear Insurers