Nuclear Power to Make a Comeback?

As Americans, particularly Californians continue to contend with power-supply problems and a bleak energy outlook, public opinion polls are showing renewed interest in nuclear energy. Consequently, Vice President Dick Cheney's energy panel is expected to call for the building of many new nuclear plants with the release of the panel's energy-policy study next month.

04/20/2001


As Americans, particularly Californians continue to contend with power-supply problems and a bleak energy outlook, public opinion polls are showing renewed interest in nuclear energy.

Consequently, Vice President Dick Cheney's energy panel is expected to call for the building of many new nuclear plants with the release of the panel's energy-policy study next month.

"As people think about energy and energy solutions that are out there, nuclear is faring very well," said Steve Kerekes, a spokesperson for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Washington, D.C., as quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In response to an NEI October 1999 poll, 42 percent of the survey's respondents were in favor of building new nuclear power plants. By January of 2001, that statistic increased to 51 percent, and in March, the number pro-nuclear survey respondents reached 66 percent.

"Interest in new plant construction in the United States in higher now than it has been for 20 years," said Vaughn Gilbert, spokesperson for Westinghouse Electric Co., Monroeville, Penn., according to the Post-Gazette.

On the other hand, nuclear power opponents point out several issues of concern:

  • Difficulty in disposing radioactive nuclear waste.

  • A greater risk of diverting nuclear material to build bombs.

  • Reactor accidents such as Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in 1979 and the Soviet Union's Chernobyl plant in 1986.





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