Experts discuss latest developments in the nuclear law field

by nuclearafrica

The Nuclear Law Committee (NLC) is a group of specialists from the NEA member countries that comprises lawyers, policymakers, academics and technical experts. The NLC met in person and online on 3-4 April 2024 with 57 participants from 23 NEA member countries, representatives from China and the United Arab Emirates, the European Union (EU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and representatives from the nuclear insurance industry, to discuss the committee’s activities.

The first day of the meeting included an address by NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, along with updates from the Secretariat, IAEA and EU on matters of special interest to the NLC. The Japanese delegation reported on the status of lawsuits for compensation for nuclear damage in Japan regarding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident while experts discussed the practical impact on nuclear liability in respect of nuclear installations in Ukraine.

The first day also included reports on the latest national developments in nuclear law in Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as status report from the Secretariat on the new initiatives such as the Women in Nuclear Law Initiative established under Women in Nuclear Global, and the Working Group 5 on Nuclear Law Education established under the NEA Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy.

The second day featured a follow-up session to discuss the outcomes of the breakout session organised for the first time at the NLC meeting in 2023. The aim was to adapt the NLC and its working parties to fulfil the evolving needs of its member countries in the years ahead, with a specific focus on the relationship between the NLC and its working parties. Updates on the latest activities of these groups, namely the Working Party on the Legal Aspects of Nuclear Safety (WPLANS), the Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Transport (WPNLT) and the Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities  (WPLDF) were also shared with the NLC. The delegations of China and the United Arab Emirates reported on the latest national developments in nuclear law in their respective countries. 

The Secretariat also informed the NLC of the ongoing procedure to appoint the judges for the 11th mandate of the European Nuclear Energy Tribunal, which will begin on 1 January 2025.

To conclude the event, a reception was organised to honour the retirement of the Chair of the NLC, Roland Dussart-Desart, after his dedicated service of more than 20 years. Mr Dussart-Desart, formerly the Head of the Legal Division of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy in Belgium, has served as the NLC Chair since 2004. Throughout his tenure, Mr Dussart-Desart has played a pivotal role in major international nuclear law developments over the past decades and his leadership has been instrumental in these years. He helped shepherd the ratification, entry into force and implementation of the 2004 Protocols to amend the Paris and Brussels Supplementary Convention. He oversaw the transformation of the NLC from a nuclear liability focused group to the pre-eminent group of nuclear lawyers in the world tackling the toughest issues of the day. And most recently, he has been a strong supporter of the cross-cutting work of the Agency, particularly its work on stakeholder involvement. His unwavering support for the NLC has been critical to its growth and importance in the nuclear world. NLC delegations and the Secretariat remain deeply grateful to Mr Dussart-Desart for his years of service.

Cocktail organised after the NLC meeting held on 3 April 2024
Bureau of the NLC and Head of the Division of Nuclear Law

Pictured on the left: Roland Dussart-Desart, NLC Chair.
Pictured on the right: Members of the NLC Bureau and Kimberly Sexton Nick, Head of NEA Division of Nuclear Law.

Latest developments in nuclear liability and transport

The NEA Working Party on Nuclear Liability and Transport (WPNLT) met in person and online on 2 April 2024 with 49 participants from 17 NEA member countries, representatives from China and the United Arab Emirates, the EU, the IAEA, representatives from the International Nuclear Law Association (INLA), World Nuclear Association (WNA) and World Nuclear Transport Institute (WNTI) and experts in nuclear transport and insurance. 

Established in 2016, the WPNLT examines issues relating to the interpretation and application of international nuclear liability instruments to nuclear transport. The working party promotes the exchange of legal information relating to nuclear liability as applicable to nuclear transport and the sharing of related experience among member countries.

The meeting agenda featured a topical session during which experts discussed the relationships between Incoterms, different legal frameworks applicable to international carriage of dangerous goods, and nuclear liability regime(s). Moreover, an expert from the nuclear insurance industry provided practical insights into specific issues related to transport of nuclear substances, focusing on increased liability amounts and relevant insurance challenges. A fruitful discussion also emerged on the geographical overlap of nuclear liability conventions in case of international transport.

Participants convened in a breakout session to deliberate on forthcoming topics of mutual interest and determine preferred approaches for addressing them in the years ahead. Meanwhile, the working party continued discussing the challenges related to the qualification of nuclear substances to be transported, with the WPNLT report on the Qualification of Nuclear Substances and Nuclear Liability, expected to be published in 2024.

Representatives of INLA, WNA and WNTI also presented the latest activities of their respective groups related to nuclear transport, while the delegation of China reported on the latest national developments in nuclear law and transport. Finally, the Secretariat provided a status update on country sheets on national legislation and rules applicable to nuclear transport and transit and the results of WPNLT case studies.

WPNLT PhotoWPNLT meeting participants. Paris, April 2024.

Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention

The Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (CPPC) met in person and online on 5 April 2024 with 13 participants from 8 CPPCs. The Contracting Parties provided an update on their respective national legislative and administrative processes and the status of financial securities after the entry into force of the 2004 Protocols (1 January 2022), with a particular focus on the remaining actions to be undertaken. In addition, the Contracting Parties discussed several nuclear liability-related matters that touch upon the operation and interpretation of the Paris and Brussels Supplementary Conventions, including the application of the Paris Convention to nuclear incidents occurring, or nuclear damage suffered, on the high seas or in international airspace, the reciprocity conditions under Article 2(a)(iv) of the Paris Convention and the status of implementation of the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy Decisions, Recommendations and Interpretations applicable to the Paris Convention.

The Secretariat also provided an update on the activities of the CPPC-related working groups: the Working Group on the Conditions to Call upon the Supplementary Funds Pursuant to the Brussels Supplementary Convention (WG on BSC Third Tier), the Working Group on Fusion and the Possibility of its Inclusion within the Scope of the Paris Convention (WG on Fusion) and the Expert Group on Nuclear Installations for the Decay Storage of Certain Types of Low-level Short Lived Radioactive Waste (EGDS).

A total of 16 countries are parties to the Paris Convention, covering 94 operating reactors and 7 under construction out of a total of 417 operating reactors worldwide and 58 under construction. Of those countries, 13 are also parties to the Brussels Supplementary Convention.

CPPC Photo

CPPC meeting participants. Paris, April 2024.

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