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The cost of living near nuclear power

Do you have to get nuclear insurance?
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You won't find nuclear coverage in your standard homeowners insurance policy. In fact, it specifically excludes nuclear hazard liability to avoid sharing this largely uncharted risk.

But the main reason you can't purchase nuclear insurance is Americans already have it, thanks to a nuclear industry contingency fund mandated by Congress in 1957.

In the same year that President Dwight Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program launched the nation's first nuclear plant at Shippingport, Pa., Congress enacted the Price-Anderson Act. It requires all nuclear plant operators to maintain an insurance fund, currently at about $12.9 billion, to pay liability claims for personal injury, sickness, disease and death, property damage and loss, and living expenses for displaced victims resulting from a commercial nuclear plant accident.

To date, that fund has paid out $71 million in claims resulting from the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

"The nuclear program really completely hinges on many billions of dollars of federal money being spent to shore it up," says von Meier. "It is not viable in the private sector alone, starting with liability insurance; you can't get it, we have to underwrite it as a society."




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