Can Nuclear Regain the Public's Trust?
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission faces a moment of truth says Scientific American: Regain the public's trust in nuclear power or face worse alternatives to energy production.
What's the Latest Development?
The nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima, Japan, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, brought the question of nuclear power front and center. The editors at Scientific American argue that now is a crucial moment for the nuclear industry to regain the public's trust or face increasing opposition in the years ahead. What is needed, they say, is more transparent enforcement of regulations currently on the books. To do this, clear standards on evacuation plans, licensing and new technology should be made readily available to the public.
What's the Big Idea?
"Nuclear power has a good safety record, but when it fails it can fail catastrophically," says Scientific American. Since Chernobyl, it had slowly enjoyed a renaissance, coming to account for more than twenty percent of America's power production. When nuclear power is behaving well, it would seem to offer environmental and security benefits, making us less dependent on burning fossil fuels marketed by foreign governments. "Clean renewable technologies will take years to reach the scale needed to replace the power we get from splitting atoms." In the mean time, some argue that nuclear power is the best alternative we have.
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