If you haven’t noticed, there’s a bit of a renaissance happening in the nuclear power plant industry. A decade ago, no one — not even government officials — mentioned the technology. Now, with the Bush Administration in power the last six years, environmental concerns over coal burning plants, and an influx of investment, the topic is back and hotter than ever.
This week, MSNBC.com has a fascinating five-part article, called Power Play, on the return of nuclear energy into the social consciousness. Of course, it’s not like it ever truly went anywhere. After all, 20% of the energy flowing through the U.S. comes from nuclear energy. What is interesting, however, is how the industry — once considered unsafe and expensive — has turned around their image and now has as many as 31 new nuclear reactors on the drawing board for U.S. soil.
The article chronicles the money, the technology, and the criticism of the industry. Obviously, for the all the wonderful emission-free electricity generated by nuclear power, there’s tons of radioactive waste (close to 47,000 metric tons!) and the threat (although lessened in modern plants) of a disaster on scale with Chernobyl. There are plans to bury that waste at the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada, but such fixes are more than 10 years away and may never happen at all. So, we have all this waste to still contend with.