Nuclear Power

June 10, 2011 • Volume 21, Issue 22
Can nuclear energy answer global power needs?
By Marcia Clemmitt


Indian Point nuclear plant rises along the Hudson River (AFP/Getty Images/Don Emmert)
Indian Point nuclear plant rises along the Hudson River north of New York City. Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster has raised new concerns about Indian Point, which sits near two earthquake faults and nearly 20 million people. (AFP/Getty Images/Don Emmert)

The catastrophic accident in March at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has sparked new debate in the United States and elsewhere over the role of nuclear energy in electric-power generation. Spurred by concerns that the burning of coal and other carbon-based fuels is causing climate change, Democrats, including President Barack Obama, and some environmentalists have joined a long-established Republican consensus that nuclear power belongs in the nation's energy mix. But expansion of nuclear power faces big obstacles, including the high cost of building new plants and public qualms about health and safety. Largely because of cost issues and investors' fears of liability, expansion of nuclear power in the United States has virtually stopped since the 1970s. Meanwhile, critics charge that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is too lax about safety.

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
Nuclear Energy