Atomic Energy – Indemnity Legislation – Anderson Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954
The Anderson Amendments were enacted to encourage private industry to enter the atomic energy field by removing the risk of excessive liability for a major nuclear reactor disaster. Such a disaster could result in liability far in excess of available insurance coverage. The solution provided by the new legislation has three aspects: (1) After private financial protection, geared to the amount of available insurance, is obtained by a person licensed by the Atomic Energy Commission, (2) the Commission will execute an agreement to indemnify (not insure) the licensee and “any other person who may be liable for public liability” to the extent of $500 million. (3) When claims exceed this amount the fund is distributed pro rata among claimants, a reserve being set aside for claims arising from latent injuries. After the $500 million has thus been exhausted, no further recovery is possible, for the act cuts off the liability of the licensee at this point.
In light of these basic considerations the balance of this comment will attempt to pose some of the problems facing the Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear entrepreneurs, and the public under the provisions of the new law.