Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oil Spill for the Goose, Nuclear Reactors for the Gander and Liability Cap

The unlimited nuclear liability cap (or the lack of it) is a hot topic in India. Interestingly this topic has reared its head in US also, with the BP Oil Leak being labelled as the "Environmental 9/11". Here's a very interesting article by Richard A. Epstein, a professor of law, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

It is instructive to note what he has to say about liability cap:

"The legal system should never allow self-interested parties to keep for themselves all the gains from dangerous activities that unilaterally impose losses on others."


"... we'd all be much better off if there were no statutory liability cap and if operators both big and small were required to purchase insurance—amounting to the tens of billions if necessary—when they operate in dangerous waters or terrains."


"A tough liability system does more than provide compensation for serious harms after the fact. It also sorts out the wheat from the chaff—so that in this case companies with weak safety profiles don't get within a mile of an oil derrick."

Now compare this with what Mr. Prithviraj Chavan has to say about the proposed nuclear liability cap (see here):

"If we don’t keep the caps reasonable, nobody will invest in India."
Oh I see!

Actually, nobody needs to fear. In India one can get away with genocide, if one has to go by the example we have set for ourselves with the 26-year-delayed 'justice' in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case.

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