Nuclear meltdown claims in Canada

The earthquake and tsunami which have affected the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan brings to mind the question, "What if this happened here?".

The Japanese government will likely have to absorb the costs of damage caused to the nuclear power plants as well as any damage caused by escaping radioactive materials. The material damage cover is excluded when damage to a nuclear plant is caused by an earthquake or tsunami. The Japanese Nuclear Act of 1961 states that the operators are not liable for any nuclear damage arising from a ‘grave natural disaster of an exceptional nature'.

General liability pollution insurance policies usually have an exclusion for nuclear even including low-level radiation pollution conditions. So the Canadian government would have to absorb losses such as they do when there is major flooding that is excluded from home insurance policies.

There is a property and liability pool that insurance companies can participate in known as the Nuclear Insurance Association of Canada (NIAC). An insurance pool is used for certain high risk situations that many will contribute to for the financial consequences when something does go wrong.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami had tremors which brought damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. Four of the six reactors were affected by explosions and this has caused radiation levels in Okuma to elevate.

Canada has about 71,000 workers involved in nuclear power. Of course, they have a strong safety system but as we have seen in Japan, that cannot prevent a catastrophe from happening.

The nuclear plant workers in Japan who have stayed, putting themselves at risk of certain death are heroes and the world applauds their sacrifice.

If your business is located near to a nuclear power plant then you need to talk to your broker about limitations to your commercial general liability insurance. You may find that your pollution insurance coverage is limited.

Ask questions and take control of your insurance. It is unfortunate that it can take a tragedy such as the disaster in Japan to bring awareness.