International Energy Law Review
Reviewed by Dr Tim Stone CBE
Helen Cook’s The Law of Nuclear Energy, 2nd edn, published by Sweet & Maxwell, with an introduction by George Borovas, is a vital part of every energy professional’s library. Helen’s passion for both the low-carbon nature of nuclear power but also its far wider impact on civil society shines through her carefully constructed text. The book provides coverage of the full sphere of the legal aspects of civil nuclear power from an international perspective with many references to specific national issues. Recent updates are dealt with clearly, including the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage—which creates a global nuclear liability regime—as well as the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
The book addresses legal aspects of nuclear law for a variety of readers—from policy-makers to nuclear project developers and financiers. It sets out, clearly, both the basis and practice of law and regulation of every aspect of civil nuclear power from the front end of the fuel cycle, through construction, operation, decommissioning and the back end of the fuel cycle. The section on regulation is particularly useful to help understand the wide range of different approaches which are taken around the world from the outcome-based approach in the UK through a "goal setting regime" to the more prescriptive "requirements" based approach of the US. Understanding these cultural differences is a critical step to any work in civil nuclear power.
The book is logically structured and flows from the Legal Infrastructure for Nuclear Energy, through Nuclear Power New Build (with extensive coverage of the issues involved in the many different aspects of construction and financing) through to the Future of Nuclear Law in which Helen also addresses the emerging importance of small modular reactors. This interest in a more manufactured approach as opposed to conventional construction on site is clearly visible in very many countries—the geographic diversity in several countries is driving real interest in smaller devices to service remote communities while elsewhere in the world significant effort is either planned or underway to develop and deploy smaller conventional designs as well as advanced modular designs. Taking nuclear to a mass production, manufactured solution focused on cheap, low carbon electricity production is key to the energy futures in many countries and Helen’s book covers the vital legal issues around this.
Helen’s book is more than just a textbook. It is well written and comprehensive in coverage and should be read carefully from the outset of policy-making so that governmental context can be as considered as possible. For the developers and financiers, the book provides an important tutorial which should be part of the preparation for early thinking about potential projects. The book is based on wide practical experience of advising on large successful projects around the world, including her ground-breaking experience in her work on the first projects in previously non-nuclear countries where the entire nuclear process has been started from scratch. The book overall is the result of painstaking work and is clearly written and easily assimilable—the author’s passion for her subject shines throughout.
Dr Tim Stone CBE
Chairman, Nuclear Risk Insurers & Non-Executive Director
Horizon Nuclear Power
I.E.L.R. 2018, 5, 185
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