Nuclear Safety

August 22, 1975

Report Outline
National Debate Over Nuclear Power
Rapid Growth of Nuclear Programs
Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy
Special Focus

National Debate Over Nuclear Power

New Role of Nuclear Power in U.S. Energy Crisis

A great debate over the safety of nuclear power is under way in the United States today. Almost every American has a stake in the outcome of that debate. The nation has reached an important crossroads in planning its energy supply for the next quarter-century. In a time of dwindling supplies and rising costs of traditional fossil fuels, nuclear power is regarded in some quarters as the only practical solution of the national energy crisis. On the other hand, critics of nuclear power contend that the country should undertake a strict program of energy conservation coupled with an accelerated effort to develop new energy sources.

Nuclear advocates would proceed rapidly with widespread construction of nuclear power plants to provide electricity for virtually every part of the nation. The Federal Power Commission envisions electricity accounting for 50 per cent of total U.S. energy use by the 1980s, in contrast to about 25 per cent today. But nuclear opponents favor a moratorium on further development of nuclear plants until what they call crucial safety questions are resolved. The nuclear safety debate has escalated sharply in recent months, and the year ahead promises to be critical, if not decisive, in determining the future role of nuclear power in the nation's energy supply picture.

Fifty-six nuclear power plants are now in operation in the United States, with 63 under construction. Orders have been taken or letters of intent filed for 182 nuclear plants. The Ford administration wants at least 200 nuclear plants to be operating by 1985, and others have proposed that 1,-000 nuclear plants should be built by the year 2000. Nuclear energy produces only about 8 per cent of total U.S. electric power today, but proponents hope it will contribute more than 50 per cent by the end of the century. Since about three-quarters of the American people now live in urban areas, most of the planned nuclear power plants will be situated within a fairly close distance from heavily populated areas. This is a key point of contention in the nuclear safety debate.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Nuclear Power
Jun. 10, 2011  Nuclear Power
Jan. 28, 2011  Managing Nuclear Waste
Jan. 2007  Nuclear Proliferation
Mar. 10, 2006  Nuclear Energy
Jun. 08, 2001  Nuclear Waste
Jan. 22, 1993  Nuclear Fusion
Feb. 22, 1991  Will Nuclear Power Get Another Chance?
Dec. 05, 1986  Nuclear Reactor Safety
Jul. 29, 1983  Nuclear Power's Future
Dec. 04, 1981  America's Nuclear Waste Backlog
Sep. 12, 1980  Nuclear Fusion Development
Aug. 10, 1979  Determining Radiation Dangers
Dec. 03, 1976  Nuclear Waste Disposal
Aug. 22, 1975  Nuclear Safety
Aug. 04, 1971  Nuclear Power Options
Jun. 10, 1964  Atomic Power Development
Feb. 12, 1958  Radiation Hazards
Feb. 27, 1957  Atomic Power Race
Mar. 29, 1955  Atomic Energy for Industry
Apr. 24, 1946  Control of Atomic Energy
Energy and the Environment
Hazardous Substances and Nuclear Waste
Nuclear Energy