Vedomosti, August 22, 2001

Dutch company Mammoet has taken out liability insurance for possible radioactive contamination of the Barents Sea during the Kursk submarine salvage operation. Only Russian insurance companies participate in the unique project; foreign companies do not insure such risks.

There are two nuclear reactors on the submarine, both deactivated. On August 21 the background radiation in the area of the disster amounted to 5 microroentgen per hour. The greatest risks during the salvage operation is that the sub could fall, tilt, or collide with the sea floor. Russian experts say that reactors will resist any of these accidents, will not be destroyed and will not emit radiation. According to the press service of the Navy, under the contract Mammoet is liable for safety of work and safety of working environment for workers and sub-contractors while raising of Kursk. All risks apart from the radiation risks were insured by foreign companies. PR officer of Mammoet Larisa Van Seumeren failed to say why the company insured the risks of radioactive contamination in Russia.

Andrei Dombrovsky, deputy director of corporate liability insurance at Ingosstrakh, explains this decision by saying that insurance policies usually contain a reservation excluding compensation of third parties for damage from radioactive contamination. Foreign companies refused to remove this reservation. In Russia there is a special “nuclear pool” of 50 companies including ROSNO, VEStA, Spasskie Vorota, MAKS, Energogarant, and Ingosstrakh-Rossiya. These companies insure the major part of enterprises which operate sources of nuclear energy.

Ingosstrakh became the main insurer of this unique project. Ingosstrakh insured liability of Mammoet for risks of damage to third parties and company’s employees from radioactive emission, as well as the losses associated with liquidation of consequences of radioactive contamination. All these risks will be reinsured in Russia too. For Russian market a risk of $50 million is very big, and not only members of the pool will take part in the reinsurance.