India Starts Construction of a Global Nuclear Education Center
January 5, 2014 • 9:37AM

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present at the laying of the foundation stone for the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership near Delhi this week, as reported Friday by World-Nuclear-News. The Center will have five schools for research into advanced nuclear technology, training and education, international seminars, and courses. Subject areas will include nuclear energy systems, radiological safety, applications of radioisotopes and radiation technologies, and nuclear security. India hopes to attract foreign visiting nuclear experts for international seminars, and is working with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency and Russia, in that regard.

India approved the project in 2010, and in June 2011, Russia signed an agreement to cooperate in establishing four of the five schools. Indicating the need for such an initiative for nuclear education, the Prime Minister said at the ceremony that India's "goal is to build 27,000MW of nuclear power generating capacity within the next ten years."

Although India and the U.S. signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2008, commercial cooperation including the purchase of U.S. technology for power plants, has been stymied by India's law putting all liability on the vendor for any malfunction or accident. This is a problem for U.S. vendors, which are all commercial enterprises. Even if an accident is caused by the Indian operators, the U.S. supplier would be held accountable.

In 1957, to be able to implement the commercial nuclear initiatives enabled by Atoms for Peace, the U.S. Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act, which placed a cap on the amount of liability a private company could face from public damages in the event of an accident. Each nuclear licensee pays for this insurance, and in the case of an accident, all of them chip in to cover the expenses. If a certain amount is exceeded, the Congress can provide disaster relief.

This kind of insurance is not needed for commercial Russian nuclear cooperation, because the nuclear industry is state owned, as is also the case in China.