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Energy Act 2004

Section 76: Amendment for giving effect to international obligations

214.Section 76 gives the Secretary of State the power to amend primary legislation in order to implement certain international obligations contained in the Paris and Brussels Conventions on third party nuclear liability.

215.The Conventions establish an international legal framework within Western Europe for compensating victims of a radiation leak. The Paris Convention establishes minimum levels of liability for operators of nuclear installations and the principle that their liability is strict and is to be covered by compulsory financial security. The Brussels Convention provides supplementary compensation to be paid from public funds.

216.The Conventions have been revised to provide higher and broader levels of compensation in the event of civil nuclear accidents. In particular, the liability of individual operators has been increased from £140m to €700m (£430m) per incident and the provision for supplementary compensation has been increased from £220m to €1.5bn (£930m). The definition of “nuclear damage” is also being widened to include not only loss of life or personal injury and loss of or damage to property, but also environmental damage, loss of income deriving from such damage and the cost of measures to prevent an accident occurring again.

217.Section 76 also makes provision for ratification of the “Joint Protocol” which allows parties to the two international Conventions (Paris and Vienna) governing liability for civil nuclear accidents to extend reciprocal benefits to each other. The ratification of the Joint Protocol will enable UK participation for the first time in a global compensation regime between the largely Western European parties to the Paris Convention and the parties to the Vienna Convention, which include Former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries and South American States.

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