There are actually plans to build new nuclear plants in America. President Obama has taken out 8 billion dollars in loans in order to build the first nuclear power plant in America in three decades. He wants to build another power plant in order to wean ourselves from our dependancy on foreign oil. This money will fund two new nuclear reactors in Burke, Georgia.
The last nuclear reactor in the US to go online was Watts Bar 1 (in Spring City, TN), in 1996. It took almost 23 years to build and cost about $8 billion.
An article published online by The Nation does an excellent job of documenting the rise and fall of nuclear power in the U.S. It attributes the 30-year lull in power plant construction and development to the increased safety concerns following the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in 1979.
After that incident, President Carter legally enacted stricter safety standards to regulate the nuclear industry. The result was much more expensive costs for building and maintaining these plants – so much so that many half-built plants were abandoned and others that had been approved were scrapped before ground was broken. A study conducted in 1995 showed that “the post-TMI safety regime” eliminated over 90% of post-construction profits. Several projects in the 80s were simply overrun with massive costs, and defaulted on their loans.
Deregulation of the industry in the 90s, however, lowered fines and costs for implementing safety standards so that some new plants could be constructed. In light of current safety concerns after Fukushima, it’s likely saftey regulations will force a “pause” in nuclear construction once more.
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