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U.S. Approves First Nuclear Reactors Since 1978

Vogtle nuclear power plant

After 34 years the U.S. has approved the production of new nuclear reactors in a divided federal panel.

While Gregory Jaczko, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman, originally praised the design of two reactors, he stood in opposition to the approval, maintaining that there is still more work to be done in relation to making sure lessons have been learned from Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

The licensing covers two reactors at a estimated cost of around $14 billion. Preliminary work is already in progress, and the new reactor should be operating by 2016.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is on the same page as Jaczko. According to senior scientist Edwin Lyman, “The chairman has done the right thing. It makes no sense to rush into constructing any new reactor before the implications of Fukushima are fully understood and incorporated into NRC regulations.”

The Obama administration is in support of nuclear power, touting that a “nuclear renaissance” is in the making.

Despite all of the support, cheap natural gas is still making nuclear power less competitive, plus Fukushima has killed a great deal of public confidence in many parts of the world. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is taking steps to improve safety at the 104 reactors across the United States, particularly taking Fukushima into account and taking extra precautions against earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters.

Do you think the new reactors are a wise idea of the United States?

Image CC licensed by Blatant World: Vogtle nuclear power plant, Georgia, where a new reactor is being built

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