Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 01:38:32 -0400
From: "Bill Smirnow" <>
Subject: Urgent Alert! Re PRICE ANDERSON

Hello Anti-Nuclear Activists:

Please take a moment to read the message below, which requires quick action to contact members of the Commerce Committee regarding renewal of the Price-Anderson  Act, which limits utility industry liability in the event of a nuclear accident.

Call the House of Representatives at 202-224-3121, ask for the office of one or all of these reps,  and register your opinion against the Price-Anderson Act.  I just called, it takes awhile for them to answer the phone, but the whole process took about 7 minutes, so please do call.

Lots more information/detail on this issue appears below.

Anne Reynolds,
Environmental Advocates of New York

Subject: Urgent Alert! Price-Anderson renewal to House Floor by July 17th!


We have learned that the House Commerce Committee wants to finish work on a major energy bill and send it to the House floor by July 17th.  The plan is that all House committees with jurisdiction over energy issues will finish their work by that date, so that the full House can try to pass an energy bill before their August recess.

The major nuclear component of this bill is reauthorization of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits utility industry liability in the event of a nuclear accident.

We are urging you, if you live in a district with a House Commerce Committee member (list below), to contact your member immediately and tell them NO REAUTHORIZATION OF PRICE-ANDERSON!

Please activate phone trees, contact your friends who may live in such a district, reach out to neighbors and colleagues. It is ESSENTIAL that we stop the Price-Anderson steamroller, and the only way to do that is to make it as controversial as possible-starting right now.

The Capitol Hill telephone exchange is 202-224-3121; please call your Congressmember today. Even if you don't live in a district with a Commerce Committee member, it's worth calling, because members talk to each other, and if we can demonstrate the breadth of public opposition to Price-Anderson renewal, we are a long way toward winning.


The Price-Anderson Act, last renewed in 1987, limits nuclear industry liability in the event of an accident. Currently, the limit is about $8 Billion (the exact amount depends upon how many nuclear reactors are operating).

Essentially, the nuclear industry as a whole purchases $200 million worth of private insurance. When that money is taken up, then each reactor is levied $10 million per year for about 7 years. If accident damages exceed that amount, taxpayers will be asked to make up the difference. Compare that to the 1982 Sandia National Laboratories study (CRAC-2)[], which projected economic damages of up to $300 Billion (in 1982 dollars) resulting from an accident at the Indian Point, NY reactor site. The 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe already has cost Russia, Ukraine and Belarus some $300 Billion, and the costs-from interdicted land, from radioactive waste disposal, from ongoing health effects-mount daily.

Moreover, no other hazardous industry has such a subsidized insurance scheme. Not chlorine, not any other toxic or chemical manufacturer-only the nuclear power industry. Current estimates of this taxpayer subsidy are about $3 Billion per year, based on the estimated costs if each utility purchased its own insurance (if it even could, which is unlikely).

It is important to note that if Price-Anderson is not renewed, its provisions will continue to hold for existing reactors. It is only to subsidize the construction of new reactors that Price-Anderson renewal even is being considered. Some Congressmembers may be sympathetic to the argument that while in the 1950s, when nuclear power's risks were unclear and the technology was new, Price-Anderson served a purpose. 50 years later, with a supposedly "mature" and "well-operated" nuclear industry, Price-Anderson serves only as an unnecessary government subsidy and favors one electrical generation method (nuclear power) over others (such as gas, solar, wind, etc.)

If Price-Anderson were to be renewed, there are a number of amendments that should be offered, which the fast-track House Commerce Committee schedule won't make time for.

For example, last year the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended that the amount levied per reactor be increased from $10 to $20 million per year. This year, the NRC says it made that recommendation only because it thought many reactors would not try to seek license renewal, and that therefore there would be fewer reactors around to cover the costs. Sure... In fact, the NRC is just trying to make it easier to build new reactors.

Also, reactors that use MOX (or plutonium-based) fuel, are more likely to have an accident and are more likely to have an accident of greater consequence that conventional atomic power plants. They should either not be covered by Price-Anderson at all, or their payments should be much higher. This issue has not been addressed by the House Commerce Committee.

Radioactive waste transportation is another area where Price-Anderson coverage is insufficient. Coverage, if Price-Anderson is to be renewed, should reflect potential damages-which could range into the billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, some parts of the nuclear industry are also seeking amendments. For example, the Exelon Corporation wants Price-Anderson coverage to be based on each reactor site, rather than how many reactors are on the site. That's because Exelon envisions building 110 Megawatt pebble-bed reactors, seven or more per site, and they want Price-Anderson to consider those seven reactors as one-even though smaller reactors, such as Michigan's Big Rock Point-long were liable for full Price Anderson coverage.

Tell your members of Congress that Price-Anderson is too controversial to be included in any kind of omnibus energy legislation. Tell them that how they handle this issue, and nuclear power issues generally, will determine how you vote next election. Tell them to stop renewal of Price-Anderson now!

Again, call your member(s) of Congress today! 202-224-3121. You won't regret it!

Please contact NIRS,, 202-328-0002, for any information you may need.


Michael Mariotte

House Energy and Commerce Committee

W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Louisiana, Chairman
Michael Bilirakis, Florida
Joe Barton, Texas
Fred Upton, Michigan
Cliff Stearns, Florida
Paul E. Gillmor, Ohio
James C. Greenwood, Pennsylvania
Christopher Cox, California
Nathan Deal, Georgia
Steve Largent, Oklahoma
Richard Burr, North Carolina
   Vice Chairman
Ed Whitfield, Kentucky
Greg Ganske, Iowa
Charlie Norwood, Georgia
Barbara Cubin, Wyoming
John Shimkus, Illinois
Heather Wilson, New Mexico
John B. Shadegg, Arizona
Charles "Chip" Pickering, Mississippi
Vito Fossella, New York
Roy Blunt, Missouri
Thomas Davis, Virginia
Ed Bryant, Tennessee
Robert Ehrlich, Maryland
Steve Buyer, Indiana
George Radanovich, California
Charles F. Bass, New Hampshire
Joseph Pitts, Pennsylvania
Mary Bono, California
Greg Walden, Oregon
Lee Terry, Nebraska

John D. Dingell, Michigan
   Ranking Member
Henry A. Waxman, California
Edward J. Markey, Mass.
Ralph M. Hall, Texas
Rick Boucher, Virginia
Edolphus Towns, New York
Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey
Sherrod Brown, Ohio
Bart Gordon, Tennessee
Peter Deutsch, Florida
Bobby L. Rush, Illinois
Anna G. Eshoo, California
Bart Stupak, Michigan
Eliot L. Engel, New York
Tom Sawyer, Ohio
Albert R. Wynn, Maryland
Gene Green, Texas
Karen McCarthy, Missouri
Ted Strickland, Ohio
Diana DeGette, Colorado
Tom Barrett, Wisconsin
Bill Luther, Minnesota
Lois Capps, California
Mike Doyle, Pennsylvania
Chris John, Louisiana
Jane Harman, California

 Deb Katz
 Citizens Awareness Network
 Box 83 Shelburne Falls, MA 01370