Japan Nuclear Crisis Could Cause Reassessment in U.S.
The U.S. nuclear power industry believed it was poised for a renaissance.
President Obama’s 2012 budget proposed $36 billion in loan guarantees to build nuclear power plants. He called, too, for spending hundreds of millions on nuclear energy research and modern reactor design. Powerful Republicans were on board, calling for expansion of nuclear power a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.
Then an explosion at an earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in northern Japan on Saturday tore apart a building housing a reactor containment structure. Smoke billowed from the plant. Japanese officials ordered an evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Later, officials said cooling systems were failing at a second reactor at the same plant, putting it at risk of meltdown.
Industry experts and analysts at once began to ponder the political fallout in the United States.