WASHINGTON — Who — and what pot of money — would drive cleanup after a severe nuclear-power-plant incident is a question still left unanswered by the federal government, New York state officials say in a recent legal filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Under the Price-Anderson Act, which Congress first passed in 1957 and has renewed several times since, the nuclear-power industry’s liability in the event of a catastrophe at one of its facilities is limited. The industry pays into an insurance account — which NRC officials say has a current value of $12 billion — that would be used to compensate the public for various damages incurred as the result of an incident. Those costs could be related to hotel stays, lost wages and property replacement.
Magwood’s presentation touched on the fact that it is not only the issue of where the money would come from and which agency would take charge, but also how that federal entity would define “clean.” Environmentalists, along with some EPA and state officials, have argued that EPA Superfund protocol — under which a site is considered clean when no more than one in 10,000 people would be expected to develop cancer from exposure to residual contamination — should apply in such a situation.