MPs reject proposed law for nuclear energy projects

Monday February 25 2019

A nuclear plant. Rwanda signed an MoU with the

A nuclear plant. Rwanda signed an MoU with the director-general of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom Alexey Likhachov on co-operation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. PHOTO | FILE 

By RODRIGUE RWIRAHIRA
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Legislators have turned down a request by Infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete to ratify a treaty on Rwanda’s accession to the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability on Nuclear Damages’ without thorough scrutiny by relevant committees.

The treaty aims to harmonise the national law of the Contracting Parties by establishing some minimum standards to provide financial protection against damage resulting from certain peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Amb. Gatete had tabled the law before the lower chamber of parliament seeking its approval to allow some pipeline nuclear-based projects between Rwanda and countries like Russia to be implemented.

“There are quite a number of plans in the energy, health, pharmaceutical and agriculture sectors that this country will benefit from if this treaty was ratified,” he said.

He added that acceding to the convention is a significant step towards establishing a uniform nuclear civil liability regime based on common international principals and that in case of nuclear damage in Rwanda, victims would be assured of compensation.

According to the ratification bill, treaty governs issues of liability in case of a nuclear accident and is designed to ensure that all contracting parties have laws and regulations in place.

The MPs raised issue with several aspects of the treaty such as the convention providing that the liability of the operator (in this case the government) may be limited to $5 million for any single nuclear incident, and the money should have been deposited as premium insurance.

Financial implications

Amb. Gatete told lawmakers that supplementary laws would follow. However, MP Frank Habineza said such financial implications needed to be updated.

Last year in December on a visit to Russia, Amb. Gatete signed an MoU with the director-general of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom Alexey Likhachov on co-operation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

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