Nuclear Power in The United States - Recent Developments

Recent Developments

See also: Nuclear renaissance

In the 2000s there was a renewed interest in nuclear power in the US. This was facilitated in part by the federal government with the Nuclear Power 2010 Program, which coordinates efforts for building new nuclear power plants, and the Energy Policy Act which makes provisions for nuclear and oil industries.

A series of Gallup polls from 1994 to 2009 found support for nuclear energy in the United States varying from 46% to 59%, with significant opinion differences between genders, income groups, and political affiliation.

The prospect of a "nuclear renaissance" has revived debate about the nuclear waste issue. There is an "international consensus on the advisability of storing nuclear waste in deep underground repositories", but no country in the world has yet opened such a site. The Obama administration has disallowed reprocessing of nuclear waste, citing nuclear proliferation concerns.

Following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced it will launch a comprehensive safety review of the 104 nuclear power reactors across the United States, at the request of President Obama. The Obama administration "continues to support the expansion of nuclear power in the United States, despite the crisis in Japan". Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, public support for building nuclear power plants in the U.S. dropped to 43%, slightly lower than it was immediately after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, according to a CBS News poll. A survey conducted in April 2011 found that 64 percent of Americans opposed the construction of new nuclear reactors. A survey sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, conducted in September 2011, found that "62 percent of respondents said they favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States, with 35 percent opposed".

In late 2011 and early 2012, construction of four new nuclear reactor units at two exiting plants were approved, the first such in 34 years. As of December 2011, construction by Southern Company on two new nuclear units has begun, Units 3 and 4 at the existing Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, and they are expected to be delivering commercial power by 2016 and 2017, respectively. Shortly thereafter, Units 2 and 3 at the SCANA Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina were approved, and are scheduled to come online in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

A number of other reactors are or were under consideration – a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland, a third and fourth reactor at South Texas Nuclear Generating Station (now canceled), together with two other reactors in Texas, four in Florida, and one in Missouri. However, these have all been postponed or canceled. But, looking ahead, experts see continuing challenges that will make it very difficult for the nuclear power industry to expand beyond a small handful of reactor projects that "government agencies decide to subsidize by forcing taxpayers to assume the risk for the reactors and mandating that ratepayers pay for construction in advance".

Read more about this topic:  Nuclear Power In The United States

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