Expert Group on Costs of Nuclear Accidents, Liability Issues and their Impact on Electricity Costs (EG-COSTNA)

    Albeit remote, the risk of a severe nuclear accident cannot be reduced to zero, carrying the potential to cause grave consequences to the concerned nuclear site and, if offsite radiological releases are involved, the surrounding territory, with effects on the surrounding population and potential contamination of associated land. As experienced in the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi accidents, direct and indirect costs can reach several percent of the GDP and seriously affect the equilibrium of a country for some years. Direct and indirect consequences of the accident can also extend to other countries. That was the case during the Chernobyl accident, when many European countries land contamination, with consequent restrictions on food consumption implemented across Europe. Another far-reaching effect caused to various degrees by the three severe accidents has been the impact on energy choices of several countries and on the whole nuclear industry. 'What are the "true" costs of a nuclear accident' is therefore a complex and highly debated question.

    Objectives and scope

    As underlined in the previous OECD/NEA study "Methodologies for Assessing the Economic Consequences of Nuclear Reactor Accidents", the methodologies adopted, along with the cost elements these can consider and combine, greatly depend upon the objective of the cost study and the intended use of the resulting "accident cost" figures. For instance, only some cost elements will be considered from the perspective of accident management, while a proper assessment of external costs of nuclear accident would require a broader perspective, thus including a larger range of cost elements.

    The main objectives of the study are as follows:

    • Conduct an appraisal of existing studies and data on the economic costs of severe nuclear accidents that have occurred in civil nuclear energy (TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima).
    • Review existing studies and methodologies for estimating costs associated to severe nuclear accidents, their application, uncertainties and limitations.
    • Develop methodological advice on cost assessments, including consistent definition of damage and cost elements and their perspective-specific characterisation and relative order of importance.
    • To the extent possible develop case studies on the basis of the defined methodology and perform reviews, e.g. to assess the impact of approaches and limits adopted by regulatory authorities and governments on accident consequences/costs.
    • On the basis of expert advice consider how the risks associated with such accidents might be analysed and compared with other risks.
    • Review existing liability regimes in OECD countries.

    Related links

    Expert group working area (password protected | reminder).

    NEA contacts

    Marco Cometto,

    Last reviewed: 19 September 2014