Monday, 3 August 2009

Nuclear Reactor and Liabilities

Praful Bidwai in this article points out some very interesting "liability" clauses that are in place in the US. These "liability" clauses are what Hillary Aunty wants the Indian Government to cut and paste into Indian Law.

The sum and substance is simple - the liability of the vendors involved in providing the nuclear technology is "limited". For example - if an American built reactor where to meet with a serious nuclear disaster in India and we find that the American vendor is at fault, then there is nothing much that we can do because that will be the law. Stinks of Bhopal and the Dow Chemical's current efforts to wash their hands of all liability claims.

I do not understand why we cannot hold a vendor accountable for the quality of their work. For e.g. if you are building a nuclear power plant and you would expect the building to be tolerant of an earthquake of a severe magnitude earthquake. By limiting liability we are saying "try your best, you will be forgiven if something disastrous were to happen". This opens the door to lowering quality, eliminating expensive redundancies and cutting corners.

Another analogy, supposing I bought a new set of tyres. These tyres turn out to have a manufacturing defect. As a result I burst a tyre while driving at 40Kmph and injure two pedestrians. Should the company not be liable?

The future cost of nuclear power is starting to look like a steep a price to pay to keep our cities well lit.