The Liability Of The Nuclear Power Plant Operator On Paris Convention


Basically, nuclear power plant (NPP) operators are in charge of damage caused by nuclear accident. The operator of the NPP is a person or legal entity recognized and assigned by the competent authority and organs. According to the related code, nuclear installation operator is the person who is authorized by the Turkey Atomic Energy Agency. According to the aforementioned law, even if operators do not have NPP license and/or their licenses are revoked, they shall be held responsible as NPP operators.

Nuclear Damage

According to the Article 3 of the Paris Convention, the operator who operates the nuclear facility or/and who is considered as an operator in accordance with Article 4, is responsible for any kind of personal damage or property damage. Danger liability is defined as an objective, flawless, strict reason responsibility based on the principle of being responsible for dominating a particular hazard. There is no clarification whether moral damage has entered or not within the scope of the definition of damage; and the preamble states that determining the scope of damage gives countries somehow margin of appreciation to determine the context. However, it is stated that material damages and moral damages may be compensated case by cases.

Legal Responsibility For The NPP Operation

Nuclear energy which is required special and high technology is under threat to create a serious danger in case of any error. Proverbial Chernobyl case is an obvious example. It caused a nuclear boiler to revive old theories that it had led to excessive damage to the environment and surely to the people. The Chernobyl accident has shown that such nuclear catastrophe extends beyond the borders of the country, affecting beyond the countries. This accident did not damage only the individuals, but also caused catastrophic environmental damage for different countries.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has ruled fundamental regulations including technical and scientific rules in order to minimize the number of accidents caused by the operation of the NPPs. Although these rules are advisory, they promote guidelines to the countries that shall be taken into consideration. It is possible to sort principles that have been adopted internationally on nuclear energy on the order of. The relevant regulations are the principle of radiation safety, legal responsibility, operating license of facilities, continuous control, compensation, continuity, independence from national institutions, transparency, international cooperation and right of information.

The Paris Convention

Paris Convention’s members are all from the West European countries. It was signed in 1960 to establish an international system to ensure that, in the event of the operation of nuclear facilities or the transport of nuclear material, the “third parties” of that country or of the other Parties suffer damage. The Paris Convention which is still in force today, has been revised in 1982. However, as a result of the new considerations that have arisen, the Convention updated in 1999 and signed by countries in 2004. Nevertheless, as the 2004 amendments have not been approved yet by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, it has not entered into force in Turkish law.

As stated above, the aim of the Paris Convention is to establish an universally accredited system for the compensation in the situation that the operation of nuclear facilities under the jurisdiction of a Party State or the transport of nuclear material results in the destruction of “third parties” in that or other party’s countries. Parties are obliged to take necessary legal and administrative measures in accordance with Articles 10 and 14 of the Paris Convention. In case third party states suffer during the operation of the nuclear facilities under the jurisdiction of the countries which does not take relevant measures or transport of the nuclear materialled by the third party in that country or the other jurisdiction, the government of that country is directly responsible for the compensation of the loss.

Paris Convention stipulates the establishment of compulsory insurance system which holds the operators liable. The form and scope of compensation for nuclear accidents must be made in accordance with the law. Furthermore, it shall not be possible to discriminate according to nationality, residence or residence criteria when making this determination. Therefore, a liability regime is envisaged from an objective perspective.