Compensation for Responders to a Nuclear Accident: Where Should the Law Go?

  • Bruce CurranEmail author


Employees and other responders to a nuclear accident play a critical role in limiting the resulting devastation, and are often exposed to serious harms in the process. These harms include mental health problems and increased susceptibility to certain cancers. While international and national legislators have provided extensive regulation of the health and safety of employees’ exposure to radiation, surprisingly the compensation regimes at both the national and international levels for harms suffered by responders to a nuclear accident have not been developed. Generally, compensation for responders in past nuclear disasters has been determined after-the-fact, and has been subsumed under a broader regime of compensating all victims of the disaster. In this chapter, I argue that responders deserve a special position among victims in receiving compensation and accessing certain government services. This special position can be justified on desert-based grounds. This chapter uses the two most serious nuclear accidents, at Chernobyl and Fukushima, as case studies to illustrate shortcomings in compensating responders, and develops a series of recommendations to avoid these shortcomings in the future. The shortcomings include hurdles that responders experience in establishing causation; and the statutory limitations on the available compensation, both in time and amount. These case studies suggest that the law should be improved in the following ways: creating a special class of individuals who are eligible for compensation based on involvement in the response effort; creating a system for tracking the responders and monitoring their health; providing specific health services to responders on an on-going basis; integrating the patchwork of existing sources of compensation; relaxing rules for establishing causation; and ensuring that the responders actually receive the compensation for which they are eligible.


Chernobyl Compensation Amounts Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) Government Assistance Fukushima Nuclear Damage Reparation Nuclear Liability Regime Nuclear Operators Paris Conventions Responders Strict Liability Tracking and Monitoring Vienna Conventions on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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