The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on October 17 ruled that plaintiffs claiming injuries related to the 1979 accident at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant (TMI-2) may seek punitive damages. Plaintiffs may receive compensatory and punitive damages under the Price-Anderson Act from: 1) primary financial protection provided through commercial insurance policies, which is required of all nuclear utilities; and 2) secondary financial protection in the form of private liability insurance under an industry retrospective rating plan. A third layer of protection provided by the Act may not be used to pay punitive damage awards, only compensatory damages.According to General Public Utilities Corp. (GPU), whose three utility subsidiaries own TMI-2, any potential liabilities would not exceed the sum of their insurance and secondary protection.
In a related action, the same court set the standard of care owed by the defendants to the plaintiffs at the level of radiation Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations permit to be released into the environment, as measured at the site boundary.
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