Imagine you could go to Las Vegas, and it didn’t matter how much you bet, you could only lose $100. Wouldn’t you take bigger risks? Of course you would. Unfortunately this is precisely the scenario facing the nuclear industry.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has proposed a new law to shield nuclear companies from responsibility in the event of an accident. If passed Bill C-22 would cap the liability of reactor operators to $1 billion after a reactor accident.
This is a pittance. It means that the event of Fukushima-scale accident, reactor operators would be responsible for less than 1 per cent of damage they cause. Canadians would cover the rest.
Worse, Bill C-22 would completely absolve companies that design or service Canada’s reactors of responsibility — even if their negligence caused an accident.
The bill tells nuclear companies it’s okay for them to have no skin in the game. If passed, the game will be rigged. Bill C-22 would guarantee nuclear companies always hit the jackpot no matter the risks.
The ongoing Fukushima disaster in Japan shows why this is not only unfair, but just plain dangerous.
Three years after the Fukushima disaster began there are over 100,000 people who can’t return home because of Fukushima’s fallout. Those affected are scattered across Japan, their lives in limbo. Some live in temporary government housing. Others live with relatives or friends. They’ve lost their homes, their livelihoods and their communities. They’re refugees in their own country.
This is pure folly. It’s reckless to give any industry the legislated right to gamble with the lives and livelihoods of Canadians.
We should take heed of how the special protection given nuclear companies is now viewed in Japan. While the Harper government pushes through Bill C-22, which in true Harper fashion is bundled into an omnibus bill to avoid public debate, thousands of Fukushima’s victims are challenging the law which gives nuclear companies immunity in court.
Let’s call the nuclear industry’s bluff. If the nuclear industry has confidence in the safety of its reactors, it should take responsibility for its actions like the rest of us.
Read more at Bill C-22: Nuclear Companies Win the Jackpot