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IMT 9.11.77

Liability Limits at Issue


Ciurt ro Review A-Plant Decision>


By Morton Mintz


WASHIINGTON, Nov, 8 (WP). The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to review a ruling that threatens the growth and possibly the long-term survival of nuclear power plants.


The ruling held unconstitutional a $ 560 million ceiling on damages for deaths, injuries and property losses that all victims could collect in a nuclear accident.


The ceiling is in the Price-Anderson Act of 1957. Congress passed it because equipment suppliers and electric utilities were unable or unwilling to make aubstantial investments in nuclear power unless their liability was limited.


The law had a 10-yeardeadline. Congress extended it in 1966 and again in 1975 without raising the $ 560 million limit to allow for inflation for inreases in reactor size and for estimates that the harm caused by a nuclear eccident could be twice as great as assumed 20 years ago.


Under the 1975 Price-Anderson extension, private insurance bought by plant owners would pau up to $ 140 million more. The government would be liable for the balance of up to $ 95 million.


Core Melt Accident


Judge james McMillan, in a ruling April 15, said that a socalled core-melt eccident " can reasonably be expected to produce the hundreds or thousands of tatalities . . . and widespread damage to property . . . It would not require death or serious injury to many people to exceed the $ 560 million limitation ".


Without the protection of the Proce-Anderson Act . . . power companies would probably not be able to obtain the necessary financing, supplies and architectural skills to build nuclear power plants and to maintain them once construction is xomplete," the judge said.


But, the added, the law violates the constitutional guarantee of due process " because it allows the destruction of the property or the lives of those affected by nuclear catastrophe without reasonable certainty that the victims will be justly compasated."


He said that the Price-Aderson Act violates the cinstitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws " because it provides fot what Congress deemed to be a benefit for thr whole society yhe encouragement of the generation of nuclear power, but places the cost of that benefit on an arbitrarily chosen segment of society, those injured by nuclear catastrophe. "


Environmentalists hailed his ruling. The nuclear industry - including trade associations representing consumer-owned power companies and rural electric cooperatives-denounced it.


The covernment ; joining the Duke Power Co, in appealing Judge Mc Millan’s ruling, told the Suprem Court that the judge " has confronted the operators of nuclear power plants and those who supply equipment for use in such plants with the threat of enormous unindemnified lisbility, a threat that might act as a substantial deterrent to private participation in the development of nuclear energy."


The court set aside an hour for argument and probably will hear it next spring.


Campus in Pakistan
Is closed After Clash


ISLAMABAD. Pakistan, Nov. 8 (UPI) ? - Student supporters and opponents of deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto fought with knives and sticks on the campus of Quaide Azam University yesterday, authorities said. The authrities have closed the university indefinitely.


At lest four students were in the clash a student union spokesman said. The clash followes a fight between a student union official and university driver.


After Long Legal Battle


Detroit Utility Ceases Trade
Of Old Light Bulbs for new


By Reginald Stuart


DETROIT. Nov, 8 (NYT). - It had become as much an institution in this city as the automobile production line and people had come to depend on it. Now, however, it appears that the "free" light bulb program is over.


After 90 years of providing bulbs to its customers when their old ones burned out, the Detroit Edison Co, said yesterday that it was discontinuing the service as part of its settlement of an antitrust suit filed over the program by a custome.


Detroit Edison, which serves 1,6 million customers throughout southeastern Michigan, is the only investor-owned eclectric utility in the nation to operate such a program.


The decision, which came as somewhat of a surprise to many people here, is perhaps the final chapter of a long-running battle between the utility and Lawrence Cantor, a 47-year-old druggist who in 1973 decided that the light bulbs were not "free" and that the company’s program was, in his opinion, impeding competition in the local retail light bulb business.


Figured in Rate


Because the cost of the light bulb service was figured into the basic service rate of all customers, regardiess of whether they took advantage of it. Mr. Cantor argued in court, the company was violating federal anti-trust laws by providing electric power only it customers bulbs from the company.


And because the bulbs had the appearance of being free ( a customer with a recently paid Edison bill could present it and burned-out light bulbs at any Edison office and get new bulbs ). Mr. Cantor contended that the program was impeding competition.


" My wife takes our bulbs to the office near our home," Mr. Cantor said. " Im telling her there is no Santa Claus".


Because he was unable to get any clear-cut answer from utility company office workers as to what the "free" light bulb program was costing per bulb, Mr. Cantor filed a class-action suit challenging the entire concept.


Final approval could obtained from U.S. District Judge John Piekens by Feb. 22, the date on which a hearing is scheduled.


In addition to ceasing the light bulb program next year, Detroit Edison has also agreed to pay Mr. Cantor’s legal fees. A final sum has not been agreed upon by the lawyers, but the company has said privately it would not object to a request for fees in the ares of $ 690 000.


French Unions
Act to Widen
Strike Wave.


PARIS. Nov 8 (UPI). - Strike calls spread today as more French unions planned protets over Prime Minister Raymond Barre’s austerity plans that include price controls and wage freezes.


georges Séguy, head of the Communist-oriented General Labord Confederation, the largest worker grouping, sid at a news conference that three unions have appealed for a nationwide general atryke of 24 hours on Dec 1 to protest unemplyment and the workers’ loss of purchasing power.


Postal unions called on 200 000 members to strike Nov. 16 for higher wages. They did not specify the duration of the walkout.


The air navigators’ union for the domestic airline. Air Inter announced a four-day strike beginning next Tuesday, also to press demands for more pay. baggage handlers and customs officers were on strike today.


Bakers began a strike yesterday against making croissants au beurre, crescent-shaped breakfast rolls made with buttler, to protest Mr. Barre’s cutting their price to 1,20 francs (about 24 cents). The price formerly was 15 to 20 per cent higher.


Resturants and food retailers were asked by their unions today to join the bakers’ strike tomor-

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