Summary: H.R.1414 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (03/18/1988)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1987 - Amends the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to provide that the amount of financial protection required of licensees of facilities having a rated capacity of 100,000 electrical kilowatts or more shall be the maximum amount available at reasonable cost.

Increases from $5,000,000 to $63,000,000 the maximum standard deferred premium amount which may be charged following any nuclear incident. Limits such amount to $10,000,000 in any one year. Excludes from such amount legal costs subject to court authorization that the court has not authorized to be paid. Eliminates the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) authority to: (1) establish a maximum amount of deferred premiums that may be charged for all nuclear incidents in any one year; and (2) charge some utilities smaller deferred premiums than others.

Authorizes the NRC, on a case by case basis, to assess annual deferred premium amounts less than the standard annual deferred premium for: (1) any facility, if more than one nuclear incident occurs in any one calendar year; or (2) any licensee licensed to operate more than one facility if the NRC determines that the financial impact of assessing the standard annual deferred premium would result in undue financial hardship to such licensee or to the ratepayers of such licensee.

Establishes procedures to be followed by the NRC in borrowing funds from the Treasury to compensate victims of a nuclear incident.

Extends the NRC's authority to enter into indemnification agreements with its licensees for an additional 20 years (until August 1, 2007).

Makes the Department of Energy's indemnification authority mandatory for all contracts which involve the risk of public liability and which are not subject to financial protection requirements (thereby avoiding an indemnification overlap for certain contractors). Extends the indemnification authority for an additional 20 years (until August 1, 2007).

Authorizes the Secretary of Energy to incorporate into indemnification agreements certain provisions relating to the waiver of any issue or defense as to charitable or governmental immunity.

Provides for payment from the Nuclear Waste Fund of claims arising out of nuclear waste activities funded by it.

Requires the Secretary to indemnify certain contractors to the full extent of the aggregate public liability, including the contractors' legal costs (as approved by the Secretary). Provides that indemnification agreements shall be deemed amended on the date of enactment of this Act to reflect the amount of indemnity and financial protection required of the contractor on such date. Declares that the financial protection and indemnification under this Act constitutes the exclusive means of financial protection and indemnification for any Department of Energy demonstration reactor licensed by the NRC.

Limits to $100,000,000 the indemnity amount in nuclear incidents occurring outside the United States.

Makes an indemnified contractor who is engaged in underground nuclear detonation activities liable for injuries or damages resulting from such activities.

States that in the event the Secretary implements nuclear waste activities that involve the risk of public liability, including the handling of spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, or transuranic waste, the Secretary shall be considered a contractor indemnified under an indemnification agreement.

Revises the definition of "public liability" to include the costs of precautionary evacuations ordered by State or local officials. Precludes a court from awarding the cost of a precautionary evacuation unless such costs constitute a public liability.

Sets guidelines for the maximum aggregate liability of indemnified persons for a single nuclear incident, including legal costs.

Directs the Congress to provide prompt compensation for all public liability claims for damages exceeding the statutory limitation on liability. Establishes procedures for congressional review of any nuclear incident likely to exceed the statutory liability limitation. Declares that the statutory limitation does not preclude the Congress from imposing additional revenue measures upon NRC licensees necessary to provide funds for victim compensation.

Requires the Secretary of Energy or the NRC to survey the causes and extent of damage of any nuclear incident involving damages likely to exceed the statutory aggregate liability and to report the results of such survey to the Congress, the Representatives and Senators of the affected districts and States, the public, the parties involved, and the courts. Requires the President to report to the Congress: (1) an estimate of the aggregate dollar value of damages exceeding the statutory limit; (2) a recommendation for additional sources of funds for such compensation; and (3) specific proposals for disbursing compensation for valid claims.

Prescribes the parameters within which the Congress must consider victim compensation which exceeds the statutory limit. Requires approval of such a plan by passage of a resolution by each House of Congress.

Exempts from the financial protection requirement licensees of nuclear pharmacies or hospital nuclear medicine departments. Does not preclude claims against such licensees regarding radiopharmaceuticals dispensed in the course of diagnosis or therapy. Provides for contracts of indemnification with such licensees for certain circumstances.

Extends from August 1, 1987, to August 1, 2007, the NRC's mandate to exempt certain nonprofit educational and medical activities from the financial protection requirement.

Directs the President to establish a commission to study means of fully compensating victims of a catastrophic nuclear accident that exceeds the aggregate statutory liability. Establishes guidelines for such commission. Requires the commission to report and recommend to the Congress: (1) changes in civil procedures needed for prompt claim disposition; (2) standards for establishing priorities among claims; and (3) provisions for addressing latent injury claims.

Repeals the condition that a State statute of limitations be waived only if suit is filed within 20 years after a nuclear incident. (Thus, conditions the waiving of a statute of limitations only upon institution of a suit within three years of the date the claimant knew or reasonably could have known of the injury.)

Revises the application of the waiver-of-defenses to include extraordinary nuclear occurrences involving radioactive wastes or nuclear materials licensees indemnified by the NRC.

Makes applicable to all nuclear incidents (rather than just extraordinary nuclear occurrences) the consolidation of claims in a legal action. Permits the consolidation and removal of public liability actions pending on the date of enactment of this Act.

Sets forth conditions under which the chief judge of the Federal district court in which claims are consolidated is authorized to establish a special case load management panel for the coordination of cases arising out of a nuclear incident. Sets forth criteria under which a court is authorized to permit the payment of legal costs.

Extends from August 1, 1983, to August 1, 1993, the deadline by which the Department and the NRC must report to the Congress on the need for continuation or modification of the Price-Anderson Act. Requires a second report by August 1, 2003.

Absolves lessors of a large commercial reactor from any public liability which might arise from a nuclear incident relating to such facility unless the lessor is in actual possession and control of the facility at the time of the nuclear incident.

Prohibits any court from awarding punitive damages where the Federal Government would be liable for such damages under an indemnification agreement.

Directs the NRC to adjust, at least once every five years, the amount of the aggregate standard deferred premium required of civilian commercial reactors so as to reflect the aggregate percentage change in the consumer price index since the date of enactment of this Act.

Prescribes civil and criminal penalties for violations of Department of Energy safety regulations at waste storage or disposal facilities. Exempts specified laboratories from the civil penalties provisions.

Provides that the indemnification agreement provisions of this Act apply to all Department of Energy contracts executed before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.