Companies building and running nuclear power stations find it impossible to get insurance to cover them in the even of a nuclear accident. They are uninsurable. The costs of containing and clearing up are unimaginably huge and would surely bankrupt any insurance company foolhardy enough to offer cover.
So what do the nuclear companies do? They hold their hands out and the tax payer empties their wallet. As UK Energy Minister and nuclear cheerleader Malcolm Wicks puts it:
The impossibility of quantifying the monetary value of the indemnity is the main reason that there is no commercially available insurance, and the reason an indemnity is needed.
So, they might as well pick a figure from out of the air. It’s nothing more than a huge, uneducated guess. It’s like doing the grocery shopping with only twenty dollars in your pocket but being heedless of the price of the things you’re buying. So, some fillet of beef. A Simpsons DVD box set. A big bottle of champagne. You get to the checkout and of course you don’t have enough money. With a queue of people peering over your shoulder, one by one your little extravagances are knocked off your bill.
Not so with they nuclear industry however. They hit the store and go berserk. Truffle oil. A case of bourbon. Cakes, loads of cakes. The finest wines. All the Simpsons DVD box sets. They get to the checkout and on finding they don’t have enough money, instead of putting back what they can’t afford, they telephone their friend.
He’s put upon this friend - he works long hours and he’s dog tired. But he never fails to turn up and empty his wallet. And he never complains. He’s never once said ‘no’. You know who this doormat is? This poor little character that can be relied upon to always do what he’s told? The little guy of the gang who’s always pushed around?
A radioactive waste site is leaking in the mountains of Lower Saxony, Germany. Groundwater from the site is radioactive. The facility – formerly a salt and potash mine - is in danger of collapse. Have you got your wallet handy?