Book Review: Nuclear energy regulation and the environment | The Daily Star
12:38 AM, July 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:52 AM, July 02, 2019

Book Review: Nuclear energy regulation and the environment

The very timely written book of Professor Abdullah Al Faruque on nuclear power titled Nuclear Energy Regulation, Risk and the Environment, published in 2018 by Routledge, makes an important contribution in the field of nuclear energy law which is still evolving. The book is divided into eleven chapters. Chapter one describes the importance and significance of nuclear energy. Alongside examining the risk factors associated with nuclear power, this chapter also elaborates its benefits and highlights the evolution of nuclear energy as a separate branch of international energy law. The chapter discusses the use of nuclear energy in the context of sustainable development and evaluates its role in addressing climate change. It also examines three significant nuclear accidents namely the Three Mile Island accident 1979, the Chernobyl accident 1986 and the Fukushima accident 2011 and their effects on the environment. 

The theoretical relationship between international energy law and environmental law has been explained in chapter two. In particular, it examines how international environmental law instruments regulate nuclear activities. On the other hand, it also analyses the environmental provisions found in the treaties relating to nuclear energy.

Chapter three focuses on the international legal regime on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and denuclearisation. It examines the effectiveness of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It analyses different global and regional treaties on denuclearisation as well. The chapter also highlights international judicial developments on regulation of nuclear activities. It analyses the decisions of ICJ in nuclear test cases, the 1996 ICJ Advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons and the Marshall Island cases regarding compensation for nuclear damage.

Nuclear waste management is a daunting task for countries with nuclear power plants. Chapter four examines both soft law and hard law instruments on the management of nuclear wastes. In particular, it discusses the IAEA’s 1990 Code of Practice on the Transboundary Movement of Radioactive Waste, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management 1997, EU Directives and the IAEA Standards on Management of nuclear wastes. It is observed that national regulatory frameworks on nuclear waste management must incorporate international standards developed by the IAEA and the Joint Convention.

Chapter five considers the synergy between nuclear safety as well as security and discusses relevant international treaties. In relation to nuclear safety it analyses the provisions of relevant treaties such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety 1994, and the IAEA Safety Guidelines. Regarding security, it discusses the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material 1980, the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of nuclear Terrorism 2005, and the protocols to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Given the inadequacy in existing international legal regime concerning nuclear safety, it is argued in this chapter that effective security measures of nuclear energy must be ensured at national level.

Chapter six identifies the regulatory issues and challenges of decommissioning of nuclear installations while chapter seven deals with international liability regime. In particular, it discusses the principles relating to liability of third party for nuclear accidents under the Paris Convention 1960, the Vienna Convention 1963, the Joint Protocol of 1988, the Supplementary Convention of 1997 and two protocols. It is observed that although the current liability regime is much improved from its earlier version, its effectiveness is limited due to sparse participation of States in the international treaties. Chapter eight addresses the issues of notification, emergency preparedness and responses to a potential or actual nuclear accident and in this regard, it analyses the effectiveness of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident 1986 and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of Nuclear Accident 1986.

Chapter ten looks at the legislative trends in nuclear energy in two developed countries such as USA, UK and two developing countries- India and Bangladesh. Chapter eleven provides an overview of regulatory responses at global, regional and national levels after the Fukushima Daichi nuclear accident.

Given the dearth of literature on this issue, this book has added a very significant dimension to the discourse. The book is lucid, readable and marked by clarity and consistency in argument. This well researched and thought-provoking book is a most welcome addition to the growing literature on the subject. Since Bangladesh is entering into nuclear energy era and it has adopted regulatory framework on nuclear energy, this book will be useful for experts, professionals, academics and researchers in this field.

The reviewer is Doctoral Candidate in law, Macquarie University, Australia.

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