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Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France
Nuclear power in France
Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country's total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power , the highest percentage in the world....

, and Japan
Nuclear power in Japan
Nuclear energy was a national strategic priority in Japan, but there has been concern about the ability of Japan's nuclear plants to withstand seismic activity...

 together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity. In 2007, the IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 reported there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in the world, operating in 31 countries. Also, more than 150 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfil the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source.- Surface ships and submarines :...

 have been built.
There is an ongoing debate about the use of nuclear energy
Nuclear power debate
The nuclear power debate is about the controversy which has surrounded the deployment and use of nuclear fission reactors to generate electricity from nuclear fuel for civilian purposes...

. Proponents, such as the World Nuclear Association
World Nuclear Association
The World Nuclear Association , formerly the Uranium Institute, is an international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry...

 and IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

, contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy
Sustainable energy
Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

 source that reduces carbon emissions. Opponents, such as Greenpeace International and NIRS
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service is an anti-nuclear group founded in 1978 to be the information and networking center for citizens and organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues...

, believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.
Nuclear power plant accidents
Nuclear and radiation accidents
A nuclear and radiation accident is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as "an event that has led to significant consequences to people, the environment or the facility...

 include the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 (1986), Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric ,...

 (2011), and the Three Mile Island accident
Three Mile Island accident
The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979....

 (1979). There have also been some nuclear-powered submarine mishaps. However, the safety record of nuclear power is good when compared with many other energy technologies. Research into safety improvements is continuing and nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

 may be used in the future.
China has 25 nuclear power reactors under construction, with plans to build many more, while in the US the licenses of almost half its reactors have been extended to 60 years, and plans to build another dozen are under serious consideration. However, Japan's 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric ,...

 prompted a rethink of nuclear energy policy
Nuclear energy policy
Nuclear energy policy is a national and international policy concerning some or all aspects of nuclear energy, such as mining for nuclear fuel, extraction and processing of nuclear fuel from the ore, generating electricity by nuclear power, enriching and storing spent nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel...

 in many countries. Germany decided to close all its reactors by 2022, and Italy has banned nuclear power. Following Fukushima, the International Energy Agency
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

 halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity to be built by 2035.

Use





As of 2005, nuclear power provided 6.3% of the world's energy and 15% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France
Nuclear power in France
Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country's total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power , the highest percentage in the world....

, and Japan
Nuclear power in Japan
Nuclear energy was a national strategic priority in Japan, but there has been concern about the ability of Japan's nuclear plants to withstand seismic activity...

 together accounting for 56.5% of nuclear generated electricity. In 2007, the IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 reported there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in the world, operating in 31 countries. As of December 2009, the world had 436 reactors. Since commercial nuclear energy began in the mid 1950s, 2008 was the first year that no new nuclear power plant was connected to the grid, although two were connected in 2009.

Annual generation of nuclear power has been on a slight downward trend since 2007, decreasing 1.8% in 2009 to 2558 TWh with nuclear power meeting 13–14% of the world's electricity demand. One factor in the nuclear power percentage decrease since 2007 has been the prolonged shutdown of large reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant
The is a large, modern nuclear power plant on a 4.2-square-kilometer site including land in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture, Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan, from where it gets cooling water...

 in Japan following the Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki earthquake
2007 Chuetsu offshore earthquake
The Chūetsu Offshore Earthquake was a powerful magnitude 6.6 earthquake that occurred 10:13 a.m. local time on July 16, 2007, in the northwest Niigata region of Japan. The earthquake shook Niigata and neighbouring prefectures...

.

The United States produces the most nuclear energy, with nuclear power providing 19% of the electricity it consumes, while France produces the highest percentage of its electrical energy from nuclear reactors—80% as of 2006. In the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 as a whole, nuclear energy provides 30% of the electricity. Nuclear energy policy
Nuclear energy policy
Nuclear energy policy is a national and international policy concerning some or all aspects of nuclear energy, such as mining for nuclear fuel, extraction and processing of nuclear fuel from the ore, generating electricity by nuclear power, enriching and storing spent nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel...

 differs among European Union countries, and some, such as Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, have no active nuclear power stations. In comparison, France has a large number of these plants, with 16 multi-unit stations in current use.

In the US, while the coal and gas electricity industry is projected to be worth $85 billion by 2013, nuclear power generators are forecast to be worth $18 billion.

Many military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 and some civilian (such as some icebreaker
Icebreaker
An icebreaker is a special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters. Although the term usually refers to ice-breaking ships, it may also refer to smaller vessels .For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most...

) ships use nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion is propulsion of a ship by a nuclear reactor. Naval nuclear propulsion is propulsion that specifically refers to naval warships...

, a form of nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfil the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source.- Surface ships and submarines :...

. A few space vehicles have been launched using full-fledged nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s: the Soviet RORSAT
RORSAT
Radar Ocean Reconnaissance SATellite or RORSAT is the western name given to the Soviet Upravlyaemyj Sputnik Aktivnyj satellites. These satellites were launched between 1967 and 1988 to monitor NATO and merchant vessels using active radar...

 series and the American SNAP-10A
SNAP-10A
SNAP-10A was the first and so far only known launch of a U.S. nuclear reactor into space . The Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power Program reactor was developed under the SNAPSHOT program overseen by the U.S...

.

International research is continuing into safety improvements such as passively safe plants, the use of nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

, and additional uses of process heat such as hydrogen production (in support of a hydrogen economy
Hydrogen economy
The hydrogen economy is a proposed system of delivering energy using hydrogen. The term hydrogen economy was coined by John Bockris during a talk he gave in 1970 at General Motors Technical Center....

), for desalinating
Desalination
Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water...

 sea water, and for use in district heating
District heating
District heating is a system for distributing heat generated in a centralized location for residential and commercial heating requirements such as space heating and water heating...

 systems.

Nuclear fusion



Nuclear fusion
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

 reactions have the potential to be safer and generate less radioactive waste than fission. These reactions appear potentially viable, though technically quite difficult and have yet to be created on a scale that could be used in a functional power plant. Fusion power has been under intense theoretical and experimental investigation since the 1950s.

Use in space


Both fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 and fusion appear promising for space propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion is any method used to accelerate spacecraft and artificial satellites. There are many different methods. Each method has drawbacks and advantages, and spacecraft propulsion is an active area of research. However, most spacecraft today are propelled by forcing a gas from the...

 applications, generating higher mission velocities with less reaction mass. This is due to the much higher energy density of nuclear reactions: some 7 orders of magnitude (10,000,000 times) more energetic than the chemical reactions which power the current generation of rockets.

Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 has been used on a relatively small scale (few kW), mostly to power space missions and experiments by using radioisotope thermoelectric generator
Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
A radioisotope thermoelectric generator is an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay. In such a device, the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material is converted into electricity by the Seebeck effect using an array of thermocouples.RTGs can be...

s such as those developed at Idaho National Laboratory.

Origins


The pursuit of nuclear energy for electricity generation
Electricity generation
Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy.The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday...

 began soon after the discovery in the early 20th century that radioactive elements, such as radium
Radium
Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

, released immense amounts of energy, according to the principle of mass–energy equivalence. However, means of harnessing such energy was impractical, because intensely radioactive elements were, by their very nature, short-lived (high energy release is correlated with short half-lives
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

). However, the dream of harnessing "atomic energy" was quite strong, even it was dismissed by such fathers of nuclear physics
Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies the building blocks and interactions of atomic nuclei. The most commonly known applications of nuclear physics are nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons technology, but the research has provided application in many fields, including those...

 like Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson OM, FRS was a New Zealand-born British chemist and physicist who became known as the father of nuclear physics...

 as "moonshine." This situation, however, changed in the late 1930s, with the discovery of nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

.

In 1932, James Chadwick
James Chadwick
Sir James Chadwick CH FRS was an English Nobel laureate in physics awarded for his discovery of the neutron....

 discovered the neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

, which was immediately recognized as a potential tool for nuclear experimentation because of its lack of an electric charge. Experimentation with bombardment of materials with neutrons led Frédéric
Frédéric Joliot-Curie
Jean Frédéric Joliot-Curie , born Jean Frédéric Joliot, was a French physicist and Nobel laureate.-Early years:...

 and Irène Joliot-Curie
Irène Joliot-Curie
Irène Joliot-Curie was a French scientist, the daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie and the wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Jointly with her husband, Joliot-Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity. This made the Curies...

 to discover induced radioactivity
Induced radioactivity
Induced radioactivity occurs when a previously stable material has been made radioactive by exposure to specific radiation. Most radioactivity does not induce other material to become radioactive....

 in 1934, which allowed the creation of radium-like elements at much less the price of natural radium. Further work by Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi was an Italian-born, naturalized American physicist particularly known for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics...

 in the 1930s focused on using slow neutrons to increase the effectiveness of induced radioactivity. Experiments bombarding uranium with neutrons led Fermi to believe he had created a new, transuranic element, which he dubbed hesperium
Hesperium
Hesperium was the name assigned to the element with atomic number 94, now known as plutonium.It was named in Italian Esperio after a Greek name of Italy, Hesperia, "the land of the West"....

.


But in 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn
Otto Hahn
Otto Hahn FRS was a German chemist and Nobel laureate, a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry. He is regarded as "the father of nuclear chemistry". Hahn was a courageous opposer of Jewish persecution by the Nazis and after World War II he became a passionate campaigner...

 and Fritz Strassmann
Fritz Strassmann
Friedrich Wilhelm "Fritz" Strassmann was a German chemist who, with Otto Hahn in 1938, identified barium in the residue after bombarding uranium with neutrons, which led to the interpretation of their results as being from nuclear fission...

, along with Austrian physicist Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

 and Meitner's nephew, Otto Robert Frisch
Otto Robert Frisch
Otto Robert Frisch , Austrian-British physicist. With his collaborator Rudolf Peierls he designed the first theoretical mechanism for the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1940.- Overview :...

, conducted experiments with the products of neutron-bombarded uranium, as a means of further investigating Fermi's claims. They determined that the relatively tiny neutron split the nucleus of the massive uranium atoms into two roughly equal pieces, contradicting Fermi. This was an extremely surprising result: all other forms of nuclear decay involved only small changes to the mass of the nucleus, whereas this process—dubbed "fission" as a reference to biology—involved a complete rupture of the nucleus. Numerous scientists, including Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd
Leó Szilárd was an Austro-Hungarian physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor with Enrico Fermi, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb...

, who was one of the first, recognized that if fission reactions released additional neutrons, a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction
Nuclear chain reaction
A nuclear chain reaction occurs when one nuclear reaction causes an average of one or more nuclear reactions, thus leading to a self-propagating number of these reactions. The specific nuclear reaction may be the fission of heavy isotopes or the fusion of light isotopes...

 could result. Once this was experimentally confirmed and announced by Frédéric Joliot-Curie in 1939, scientists in many countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Soviet Union) petitioned their governments for support of nuclear fission research, just on the cusp of World War II.

In the United States, where Fermi and Szilárd had both emigrated, this led to the creation of the first man-made reactor, known as Chicago Pile-1
Chicago Pile-1
Chicago Pile-1 was the world's first man-made nuclear reactor. CP-1 was built on a rackets court, under the abandoned west stands of the original Alonzo Stagg Field stadium, at the University of Chicago. The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 on December 2, 1942...

, which achieved criticality
Critical mass
A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The critical mass of a fissionable material depends upon its nuclear properties A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The...

 on December 2, 1942. This work became part of the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

, which made enriched uranium
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

 and built large reactors to breed plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 for use in the first nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s, which were used on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

.


After World War II, the prospects of using "atomic energy" for good, rather than simply for war, were greatly advocated as a reason not to keep all nuclear research controlled by military organizations. However, most scientists agreed that civilian nuclear power would take at least a decade to master, and the fact that nuclear reactors also produced weapons-usable plutonium created a situation in which most national governments (such as those in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the USSR) attempted to keep reactor research under strict government control and classification. In the United States, reactor research was conducted by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, primarily at Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of Knoxville. Oak Ridge's population was 27,387 at the 2000 census...

, Hanford Site
Hanford Site
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, operated by the United States federal government. The site has been known by many names, including Hanford Works, Hanford Engineer Works or HEW, Hanford Nuclear Reservation...

, and Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory is the first science and engineering research national laboratory in the United States, receiving this designation on July 1, 1946. It is the largest national laboratory by size and scope in the Midwest...

.

Work in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and USSR proceeded over the course of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Electricity was generated for the first time by a nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951, at the EBR-I experimental station near Arco, Idaho
Arco, Idaho
Arco is a city in Butte County, Idaho, United States. The population was 995 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Butte County.Craters of the Moon National Monument is located along U.S. Route 20, southwest of the city. The Idaho National Laboratory is located east of Arco...

, which initially produced about 100 kW. Work was also strongly researched in the US on nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion
Nuclear marine propulsion is propulsion of a ship by a nuclear reactor. Naval nuclear propulsion is propulsion that specifically refers to naval warships...

, with a test reactor being developed by 1953 (eventually, the USS Nautilus
USS Nautilus (SSN-571)
USS Nautilus is the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine. She was the first vessel to complete a submerged transit beneath the North Pole on August 3, 1958...

, the first nuclear-powered submarine, would launch in 1955). In 1953, US President Dwight Eisenhower gave his "Atoms for Peace
Atoms for Peace
"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech delivered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953....

" speech at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, emphasizing the need to develop "peaceful" uses of nuclear power quickly. This was followed by the 1954 Amendments to the Atomic Energy Act
Atomic Energy Act of 1954
The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 42 U.S.C. § 2011 et seq., is a United States federal law that is, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "the fundamental U.S...

 which allowed rapid declassification of U.S. reactor technology and encouraged development by the private sector.

Early years


On June 27, 1954, the USSR's Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant
Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant
Obninsk Nuclear Power Station, , was built in the "Science City" of Obninsk, about 110 km southwest of Moscow. It was the first civilian nuclear power station in the world...

 became the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid, and produced around 5 megawatts of electric power.

Later in 1954, Lewis Strauss, then chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

 (U.S. AEC, forerunner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975...

 and the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

) spoke of electricity in the future being "too cheap to meter
Too cheap to meter
Too cheap to meter describes a concept in which a commodity is so inexpensive that it is more cost-effective and less bureaucratic to simply provide it for a flat fee or even free and make a profit from associated services....

". Strauss was very likely referring to hydrogen fusion—which was secretly being developed as part of Project Sherwood
Project Sherwood
Project Sherwood was the codename for a United States program in controlled nuclear fusion. It was funded under the Atoms for Peace initiative during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower...

 at the time—but Strauss's statement was interpreted as a promise of very cheap energy from nuclear fission. The U.S. AEC itself had issued far more conservative testimony regarding nuclear fission to the U.S. Congress only months before, projecting that "costs can be brought down... [to]... about the same as the cost of electricity from conventional sources..." Significant disappointment would develop later on, when the new nuclear plants did not provide energy "too cheap to meter."

In 1955 the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' "First Geneva Conference", then the world's largest gathering of scientists and engineers, met to explore the technology. In 1957 EURATOM was launched alongside the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 (the latter is now the European Union). The same year also saw the launch of the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA).

The world's first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall in Sellafield, England was opened in 1956 with an initial capacity of 50 MW (later 200 MW). The first commercial nuclear generator to become operational in the United States was the Shippingport Reactor
Shippingport Reactor
The Shippingport Atomic Power Station, "the world’s first full-scale atomic electric power plant devoted exclusively to peacetime uses," was located near the present-day Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station on the Ohio River in Beaver...

 (Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, December 1957).

One of the first organizations to develop nuclear power was the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, for the purpose of propelling submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s and aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s. The first nuclear-powered submarine, , was put to sea in December 1954. Two U.S. nuclear submarines, and , have been lost at sea. Several serious nuclear and radiation accidents
Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll
There have been more than 20 nuclear and radiation accidents involving fatalities. These involved nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear submarine accidents, radiotherapy accidents, and other mishaps.-Chernobyl disaster:...

 have involved nuclear submarine mishaps. The Soviet submarine K-19
Soviet submarine K-19
K-19, KS-19, BS_19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines of the 658, 658м, 658с class , the first generation nuclear submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles, specifically the R-13 . Its keel was laid down on 17 October 1958, christened on 8 April 1959 and launched on 11 October 1959...

 reactor accident in 1961 resulted in 8 deaths and more than 30 other people were over-exposed to radiation. The Soviet submarine K-27
Soviet submarine K-27
The K-27 was the only submarine of Projekt 645 in the Soviet Navy. Project 645 did not have or need its own NATO reporting name. That project produced just one test model nuclear submarine, one which incorporated a pair of experimental VT-1 nuclear reactors that used a liquid-metal coolant ,...

 reactor accident in 1968 resulted in 9 fatalities and 83 other injuries.

The U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 also had a nuclear power program
Army Nuclear Power Program
The Army Nuclear Power Program was a program of the United States Army to develop small pressurized water and boiling water nuclear power reactors to generate electrical and space-heating energy primarily at remote, relatively inaccessible sites. The ANPP had several notable accomplishments, but...

, beginning in 1954. The SM-1 Nuclear Power Plant, at Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir is a United States Army installation and a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. Originally, it was the site of the Belvoir plantation. Today, Fort Belvoir is home to a number of important United States military organizations...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, was the first power reactor in the U.S. to supply electrical energy to a commercial grid (VEPCO), in April 1957, before Shippingport. The SL-1
SL-1
The SL-1, or Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, was a United States Army experimental nuclear power reactor which underwent a steam explosion and meltdown on January 3, 1961, killing its three operators. The direct cause was the improper withdrawal of the central control rod, responsible for...

 was a U.S. Army experimental nuclear power reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 at the National Reactor Testing Station
Idaho National Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory is an complex located in the high desert of eastern Idaho, between the town of Arco to the west and the cities of Idaho Falls and Blackfoot to the east. It lies within Butte, Bingham, Bonneville and Jefferson counties...

 in eastern
Eastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho is a generic term used to describe areas of Idaho which lie east of the Magic Valley region. It is generally understood to include: Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Power and Teton...

  Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

. It underwent a steam explosion
Steam explosion
A steam explosion is a violent boiling or flashing of water into steam, occurring when water is either superheated, rapidly heated by fine hot debris produced within it, or the interaction of molten metals A steam explosion (also called a littoral explosion, or fuel-coolant interaction, FCI) is a...

 and meltdown
Nuclear meltdown
Nuclear meltdown is an informal term for a severe nuclear reactor accident that results in core damage from overheating. The term is not officially defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission...

 in January 1961, which killed its three operators.

Development



Installed nuclear capacity initially rose relatively quickly, rising from less than 1 gigawatt (GW) in 1960 to 100 GW in the late 1970s, and 300 GW in the late 1980s. Since the late 1980s worldwide capacity has risen much more slowly, reaching 366 GW in 2005. Between around 1970 and 1990, more than 50 GW of capacity was under construction (peaking at over 150 GW in the late 70s and early 80s) — in 2005, around 25 GW of new capacity was planned. More than two-thirds of all nuclear plants ordered after January 1970 were eventually cancelled. A total of 63 nuclear units were canceled in the USA between 1975 and 1980.

During the 1970s and 1980s rising economic costs (related to extended construction times largely due to regulatory changes and pressure-group litigation) and falling fossil fuel prices made nuclear power plants then under construction less attractive. In the 1980s (U.S.) and 1990s (Europe), flat load growth and electricity liberalization
Electricity liberalization
Electricity liberalization refers to the liberalization of electricity markets. As electricity supply is a natural monopoly, this entails complex and costly systems of regulation to enforce a system of competition....

 also made the addition of large new baseload capacity unattractive.

The 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 had a significant effect on countries, such as France and Japan, which had relied more heavily on oil for electric generation (39% and 73% respectively) to invest in nuclear power. Today, nuclear power supplies about 80% and 30% of the electricity in those countries, respectively.

Some local opposition to nuclear power emerged in the early 1960s, and in the late 1960s some members of the scientific community began to express their concerns. These concerns related to nuclear accidents, nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

, high cost of nuclear power plants
Economics of new nuclear power plants
The economics of new nuclear power plants is a controversial subject, since there are diverging views on this topic, and multi-billion dollar investments ride on the choice of an energy source...

, nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism denotes the use, or threat of the use, of nuclear weapons or radiological weapons in acts of terrorism, includingattacks against facilities where radioactive materials are present...

 and radioactive waste disposal. In the early 1970s, there were large protests about a proposed nuclear power plant in Wyhl
Wyhl
Wyhl is a municipality in the district of Emmendingen in Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany.It was known in the 1970s for its role in the anti-nuclear movement....

, Germany. The project was cancelled in 1975 and anti-nuclear success at Wyhl inspired opposition to nuclear power in other parts of Europe and North America. By the mid-1970s anti-nuclear activism had moved beyond local protests and politics to gain a wider appeal and influence, and nuclear power became an issue of major public protest. Although it lacked a single co-ordinating organization, and did not have uniform goals, the movement's efforts gained a great deal of attention. In some countries, the nuclear power conflict
Nuclear power debate
The nuclear power debate is about the controversy which has surrounded the deployment and use of nuclear fission reactors to generate electricity from nuclear fuel for civilian purposes...

 "reached an intensity unprecedented in the history of technology controversies". In France, between 1975 and 1977, some 175,000 people protested against nuclear power in ten demonstrations. In West Germany, between February 1975 and April 1979, some 280,000 people were involved in seven demonstrations at nuclear sites. Several site occupations were also attempted. In the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident
Three Mile Island accident
The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979....

 in 1979, some 120,000 people attended a demonstration against nuclear power in Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

. In May 1979, an estimated 70,000 people, including then governor of California Jerry Brown
Jerry Brown
Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr. is an American politician. Brown served as the 34th Governor of California , and is currently serving as the 39th California Governor...

, attended a march and rally against nuclear power in Washington, D.C. Anti-nuclear power groups emerged in every country that has had a nuclear power programme. Some of these anti-nuclear power organisations are reported to have developed considerable expertise on nuclear power and energy issues.
Health and safety concerns, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island
Three Mile Island accident
The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979....

, and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 played a part in stopping new plant construction in many countries, although the public policy organization Brookings Institution suggests that new nuclear units have not been ordered in the U.S. because of soft demand for electricity, and cost overruns on nuclear plants due to regulatory issues and construction delays.

Unlike the Three Mile Island accident, the much more serious Chernobyl accident did not increase regulations affecting Western reactors since the Chernobyl reactors were of the problematic RBMK
RBMK
RBMK is an initialism for the Russian reaktor bolshoy moshchnosti kanalniy which means "High Power Channel-type Reactor", and describes a class of graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor which was built in the Soviet Union. The RBMK reactor was the type involved in the Chernobyl disaster...

 design only used in the Soviet Union, for example lacking "robust" containment building
Containment building
A containment building, in its most common usage, is a steel or reinforced concrete structure enclosing a nuclear reactor. It is designed, in any emergency, to contain the escape of radiation to a maximum pressure in the range of 60 to 200 psi...

s. Many of these reactors are still in use today. However, changes were made in both the reactors themselves (use of low enriched uranium) and in the control system (prevention of disabling safety systems) to reduce the possibility of a duplicate accident.

An international organization to promote safety awareness and professional development on operators in nuclear facilities was created: WANO
World Association of Nuclear Operators
The World Association of Nuclear Operators is an international organisation founded in 1989 after the Chernobyl accident to foster international cooperation and professional excellence within the nuclear industry...

; World Association of Nuclear Operators.

Opposition in Ireland and Poland prevented nuclear programs there, while Austria (1978), Sweden (1980) and Italy (1987) (influenced by Chernobyl) voted in referendums to oppose or phase out nuclear power. In July 2009, the Italian Parliament passed a law that canceled the results of an earlier referendum and allowed the immediate start of the Italian nuclear program. One Italian minister even called the nuclear phase-out a "terrible mistake".

Nuclear power plant




Just as many conventional thermal power station
Thermal power station
A thermal power station is a power plant in which the prime mover is steam driven. Water is heated, turns into steam and spins a steam turbine which drives an electrical generator. After it passes through the turbine, the steam is condensed in a condenser and recycled to where it was heated; this...

s generate electricity by harnessing the thermal energy
Thermal energy
Thermal energy is the part of the total internal energy of a thermodynamic system or sample of matter that results in the system's temperature....

 released from burning fossil fuels, nuclear power plants convert the energy released from the nucleus of an atom via nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 that takes place in a nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

. The heat is from the reactor core by a cooling system removes heat and used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine
Steam turbine
A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

 connected to a generator
Electrical generator
In electricity generation, an electric generator is a device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. A generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit. It is analogous to a water pump, which causes water to flow...

 which produces electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

.

Life cycle




A nuclear reactor is only part of the life-cycle for nuclear power. The process starts with mining (see Uranium mining
Uranium mining
Uranium mining is the process of extraction of uranium ore from the ground. The worldwide production of uranium in 2009 amounted to 50,572 tonnes, of which 27% was mined in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia are the top three producers and together account for 63% of world uranium...

). Uranium mines are underground, open-pit
Open-pit mining
Open-pit mining or opencast mining refers to a method of extracting rock or minerals from the earth by their removal from an open pit or borrow....

, or in-situ leach
In-situ leach
In-situ leaching , also called in-situ recovery or solution mining, is a mining process used to recover minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into a deposit, in situ....

 mines. In any case, the uranium ore is extracted, usually converted into a stable and compact form such as yellowcake
Yellowcake
Yellowcake is a kind of uranium concentrate powder obtained from leach solutions, in an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores. Yellowcake concentrates are prepared by various extraction and refining methods, depending on the types of ores...

, and then transported to a processing facility. Here, the yellowcake is converted to uranium hexafluoride
Uranium hexafluoride
Uranium hexafluoride , referred to as "hex" in the nuclear industry, is a compound used in the uranium enrichment process that produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It forms solid grey crystals at standard temperature and pressure , is highly toxic, reacts violently with water...

, which is then enriched using various techniques. At this point, the enriched uranium, containing more than the natural 0.7% U-235, is used to make rods of the proper composition and geometry for the particular reactor that the fuel is destined for. The fuel rods will spend about 3 operational cycles (typically 6 years total now) inside the reactor, generally until about 3% of their uranium has been fissioned, then they will be moved to a spent fuel pool
Spent fuel pool
Spent fuel pools are storage pools for spent fuel from nuclear reactors. They are typically 40 or more feet deep, with the bottom 14 feet equipped with storage racks designed to hold fuel assemblies removed from the reactor. A reactor's pool is specially designed for the reactor in which the...

 where the short lived isotopes generated by fission can decay away. After about 5 years in a spent fuel pool the spent fuel is radioactively and thermally cool enough to handle, and it can be moved to dry storage casks or reprocessed.

Conventional fuel resources


Uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 is a fairly common element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 in the Earth's crust. Uranium is approximately as common as tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 or germanium
Germanium
Germanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. The isolated element is a semiconductor, with an appearance most similar to elemental silicon....

 in Earth's crust, and is about 40 times more common than silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. Uranium is a constituent of most rocks, dirt, and of the oceans. The fact that uranium is so spread out is a problem because mining uranium is only economically feasible where there is a large concentration. Still, the world's present measured resources of uranium, economically recoverable at a price of 130 USD/kg, are enough to last for "at least a century" at current consumption rates. This represents a higher level of assured resources than is normal for most minerals. On the basis of analogies with other metallic minerals, a doubling of price from present levels could be expected to create about a tenfold increase in measured resources, over time. However, the cost of nuclear power lies for the most part in the construction of the power station. Therefore the fuel's contribution to the overall cost of the electricity produced is relatively small, so even a large fuel price escalation will have relatively little effect on final price. For instance, typically a doubling of the uranium market price would increase the fuel cost for a light water reactor by 26% and the electricity cost about 7%, whereas doubling the price of natural gas would typically add 70% to the price of electricity from that source. At high enough prices, eventually extraction from sources such as granite and seawater become economically feasible.

Current light water reactor
Light water reactor
The light water reactor is a type of thermal reactor that uses normal water as its coolant and neutron moderator. Thermal reactors are the most common type of nuclear reactor, and light water reactors are the most common type of thermal reactor...

s make relatively inefficient use of nuclear fuel, fissioning only the very rare uranium-235 isotope. Nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. Reprocessing serves multiple purposes, whose relative importance has changed over time. Originally reprocessing was used solely to extract plutonium for producing...

 can make this waste reusable and more efficient reactor designs allow better use of the available resources.

Breeding


As opposed to current light water reactors which use uranium-235 (0.7% of all natural uranium), fast breeder reactors use uranium-238 (99.3% of all natural uranium). It has been estimated that there is up to five billion years' worth of uranium-238 for use in these power plants.

Breeder technology has been used in several reactors, but the high cost of reprocessing fuel safely requires uranium prices of more than 200 USD/kg before becoming justified economically. As of December 2005, the only breeder reactor producing power is BN-600 in Beloyarsk, Russia. The electricity output of BN-600 is 600 MW — Russia has planned to build another unit, BN-800, at Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. Also, Japan's Monju reactor is planned for restart (having been shut down since 1995), and both China and India intend to build breeder reactors.

Another alternative would be to use uranium-233 bred from thorium
Thorium
Thorium is a natural radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. It was discovered in 1828 and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder....

 as fission fuel in the thorium fuel cycle
Thorium fuel cycle
The thorium fuel cycle is a nuclear fuel cycle that uses the naturally abundant isotope of thorium, , as the fertile material. In the reactor, is transmuted into the fissile artificial uranium isotope which is the nuclear fuel. Unlike natural uranium, natural thorium contains only trace amounts...

. Thorium is about 3.5 times more common than uranium in the Earth's crust, and has different geographic characteristics. This would extend the total practical fissionable resource base by 450%. Unlike the breeding of U-238 into plutonium, fast breeder reactors are not necessary — it can be performed satisfactorily in more conventional plants. India has looked into this technology, as it has abundant thorium reserves but little uranium.

Fusion


Fusion power
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

 advocates commonly propose the use of deuterium
Deuterium
Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen, is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. It has a natural abundance in Earth's oceans of about one atom in of hydrogen . Deuterium accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all naturally occurring hydrogen in Earth's oceans, while the most common isotope ...

, or tritium
Tritium
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium contains one proton and no neutrons...

, both isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

s of hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

, as fuel and in many current designs also lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

 and boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

. Assuming a fusion energy output equal to the current global output and that this does not increase in the future, then the known current lithium reserves would last 3000 years, lithium from sea water would last 60 million years, and a more complicated fusion process using only deuterium from sea water would have fuel for 150 billion years. Although this process has yet to be realized, many experts believe fusion to be a promising future energy source due to the short lived radioactivity of the produced waste, its low carbon emissions, and its prospective power output.

Solid waste


The most important waste stream from nuclear power plants is spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor...

. It is primarily composed of unconverted uranium as well as significant quantities of transuranic actinides (plutonium and curium
Curium
Curium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Cm and atomic number 96. This radioactive transuranic element of the actinide series was named after Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie. Curium was first intentionally produced and identified in summer 1944 by the group of...

, mostly). In addition, about 3% of it is fission products from nuclear reactions. The actinides (uranium, plutonium, and curium) are responsible for the bulk of the long-term radioactivity, whereas the fission products are responsible for the bulk of the short-term radioactivity.

High-level radioactive waste




The world's nuclear fleet creates about 10,000 metric tons of high-level spent nuclear fuel each year. High-level radioactive waste management concerns management and disposal of highly radioactive
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 materials created during production of nuclear power. The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to the extremely long periods radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

s remain deadly to living organisms. Of particular concern are two long-lived fission product
Long-lived fission product
Long-lived fission products are radioactive materials with a long half-life produced by nuclear fission.-Evolution of radioactivity in nuclear waste:...

s, Technetium-99
Technetium-99
Technetium-99 is an isotope of technetium which decays with a half-life of 211,000 years to stable ruthenium-99, emitting soft beta rays, but no gamma rays....

 (half-life 220,000 years) and Iodine-129
Iodine-129
Iodine-129 is long-lived radioisotope of iodine which occurs naturally, but also is of special interest in the monitoring and effects of man-made nuclear fission decay products, where it serves as both tracer and potential radiological contaminant....

 (half-life 15.7 million years), which dominate spent nuclear fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years. The most troublesome transuranic element
Transuranium element
In chemistry, transuranium elements are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92...

s in spent fuel are Neptunium-237
Isotopes of neptunium
Neptunium is an artificial element, and thus a standard atomic mass cannot be given. Like all artificial elements, it has no stable isotopes...

 (half-life two million years) and Plutonium-239
Plutonium-239
Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons, although uranium-235 has also been used and is currently the secondary isotope. Plutonium-239 is also one of the three main isotopes demonstrated usable as fuel in...

 (half-life 24,000 years). Consequently, high-level radioactive waste requires sophisticated treatment and management to successfully isolate it from the biosphere
Biosphere
The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed and self-regulating system...

. This usually necessitates treatment, followed by a long-term management strategy involving permanent storage, disposal or transformation of the waste into a non-toxic form.

Governments around the world are considering a range of waste management and disposal options, usually involving deep-geologic placement, although there has been limited progress toward implementing long-term waste management solutions. This is partly because the timeframes in question when dealing with radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

 range from 10,000 to millions of years, according to studies based on the effect of estimated radiation doses.

Low-level radioactive waste


The nuclear industry also produces a large volume of low-level radioactive waste in the form of contaminated items like clothing, hand tools, water purifier resins, and (upon decommissioning) the materials of which the reactor itself is built. In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975...

 has repeatedly attempted to allow low-level materials to be handled as normal waste: landfilled, recycled into consumer items, etcetera. Most low-level waste releases very low levels of radioactivity and is only considered radioactive waste because of its history.

Comparing radioactive waste to industrial toxic waste


In countries with nuclear power, radioactive wastes comprise less than 1% of total industrial toxic wastes, much of which remains hazardous indefinitely. Overall, nuclear power produces far less waste material by volume than fossil-fuel based power plants. Coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

-burning plants are particularly noted for producing large amounts of toxic and mildly radioactive ash due to concentrating naturally occurring metals and mildly radioactive material from the coal. A recent report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...

 concludes that coal power actually results in more radioactivity being released into the environment than nuclear power operation, and that the population effective dose
Effective dose
Effective dose may refer to:*Effective dose the dose of pharmacologic agent which will have a therapeutic effect in some fraction of the population receiving the drug...

 equivalent from radiation from coal plants is 100 times as much as from ideal operation of nuclear plants. Indeed, coal ash is much less radioactive than nuclear waste, but ash is released directly into the environment, whereas nuclear plants use shielding to protect the environment from the irradiated reactor vessel, fuel rods, and any radioactive waste on site.

Waste disposal


Disposal of nuclear waste is often said to be the Achilles' heel of the industry. Presently, waste is mainly stored at individual reactor sites and there are over 430 locations around the world where radioactive material continues to accumulate. Experts agree that centralized underground repositories which are well-managed, guarded, and monitored, would be a vast improvement. There is an "international consensus on the advisability of storing nuclear waste in deep underground repositories", but no country in the world has yet opened such a site.

Reprocessing


Reprocessing can potentially recover up to 95% of the remaining uranium and plutonium in spent nuclear fuel, putting it into new mixed oxide fuel. This produces a reduction in long term radioactivity within the remaining waste, since this is largely short-lived fission products, and reduces its volume by over 90%. Reprocessing of civilian fuel from power reactors is currently done on large scale in Britain, France and (formerly) Russia, soon will be done in China and perhaps India, and is being done on an expanding scale in Japan. The full potential of reprocessing has not been achieved because it requires breeder reactor
Breeder reactor
A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor capable of generating more fissile material than it consumes because its neutron economy is high enough to breed fissile from fertile material like uranium-238 or thorium-232. Breeders were at first considered superior because of their superior fuel economy...

s, which are not yet commercially available. France is generally cited as the most successful reprocessor, but it presently only recycles 28% (by mass) of the yearly fuel use, 7% within France and another 21% in Russia.

Reprocessing is not allowed in the U.S. The Obama administration has disallowed reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. Reprocessing serves multiple purposes, whose relative importance has changed over time. Originally reprocessing was used solely to extract plutonium for producing...

 of nuclear waste, citing nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 concerns. In the U.S., spent nuclear fuel is currently all treated as waste.

Depleted uranium


Uranium enrichment produces many tons of depleted uranium
Depleted uranium
Depleted uranium is uranium with a lower content of the fissile isotope U-235 than natural uranium . Uses of DU take advantage of its very high density of 19.1 g/cm3...

 (DU) which consists of U-238 with most of the easily fissile U-235 isotope removed. U-238 is a tough metal with several commercial uses—for example, aircraft production, radiation shielding, and armor—as it has a higher density than lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

. Depleted uranium is also controversially used in munitions; DU penetrators (bullets or APFSDS tips) "self sharpen", due to uranium's tendency to fracture along shear bands.

Economics


The economics of new nuclear power plants is a controversial subject, since there are diverging views on this topic, and multi-billion dollar investments ride on the choice of an energy source. Nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

s typically have high capital costs for building the plant, but low fuel costs. Therefore, comparison with other power generation methods is strongly dependent on assumptions about construction timescales and capital financing for nuclear plants as well as the future costs of fossil fuels and renewables as well as for energy storage solutions for intermittent power sources. Cost estimates also need to take into account plant decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning is the dismantling of a nuclear power plant and decontamination of the site to a state no longer requiring protection from radiation for the general public...

 and nuclear waste storage costs. On the other hand measures to mitigate
Mitigation of global warming
Climate change mitigation is action to decrease the intensity of radiative forcing in order to reduce the potential effects of global warming. Mitigation is distinguished from adaptation to global warming, which involves acting to tolerate the effects of global warming...

 global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

, such as a carbon tax
Carbon tax
A carbon tax is an environmental tax levied on the carbon content of fuels. It is a form of carbon pricing. Carbon is present in every hydrocarbon fuel and is released as carbon dioxide when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources—wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear—do not...

 or carbon emissions trading, may favor the economics of nuclear power.

In recent years there has been a slowdown of electricity demand growth and financing has become more difficult, which has an impact on large projects such as nuclear reactors, with very large upfront costs and long project cycles which carry a large variety of risks. In Eastern Europe, a number of long-established projects are struggling to find finance, notably Belene in Bulgaria and the additional reactors at Cernavoda in Romania, and some potential backers have pulled out. Where cheap gas is available and its future supply relatively secure, this also poses a major problem for nuclear projects.

Analysis of the economics of nuclear power must take into account who bears the risks of future uncertainties. To date all operating nuclear power plants were developed by state-owned or regulated
Regulated market
A regulated market or controlled market, is the provision of goods or services that is regulated by a government appointed body. The regulation may cover the terms and conditions of supplying the goods and services and in particular the price allowed to be charged and/or to whom they are distributed...

 utility monopolies
Electric utility
An electric utility is a company that engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity for sale generally in a regulated market. The electrical utility industry is a major provider of energy in most countries. It is indispensable to factories, commercial establishments,...

 where many of the risks associated with construction costs, operating performance, fuel price, accident liability and other factors were borne by consumers rather than suppliers. In addition, because the potential liability from a nuclear accident is so great, the full cost of liability insurance is generally limited/capped by the government, which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded constituted a significant subsidy. Many countries have now liberalized the electricity market
Electricity market
In economic terms, electricity is a commodity capable of being bought, sold and traded. An electricity market is a system for effecting purchases, through bids to buy; sales, through offers to sell; and short-term trades, generally in the form of financial or obligation swaps. Bids and offers use...

 where these risks, and the risk of cheaper competitors emerging before capital costs are recovered, are borne by plant suppliers and operators rather than consumers, which leads to a significantly different evaluation of the economics of new nuclear power plants.

Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, costs are likely to go up for currently operating and new nuclear power plants, due to increased requirements for on-site spent fuel management and elevated design basis threats.

Accidents and safety


Some serious nuclear and radiation accidents
Nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll
There have been more than 20 nuclear and radiation accidents involving fatalities. These involved nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear submarine accidents, radiotherapy accidents, and other mishaps.-Chernobyl disaster:...

 have occurred. Nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

 accidents include the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

(1986), Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
The is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric ,...

 (2011), and the Three Mile Island accident
Three Mile Island accident
The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979....

 (1979). Nuclear-powered submarine mishaps include the K-19
Soviet submarine K-19
K-19, KS-19, BS_19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines of the 658, 658м, 658с class , the first generation nuclear submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles, specifically the R-13 . Its keel was laid down on 17 October 1958, christened on 8 April 1959 and launched on 11 October 1959...

 reactor accident (1961), the K-27
Soviet submarine K-27
The K-27 was the only submarine of Projekt 645 in the Soviet Navy. Project 645 did not have or need its own NATO reporting name. That project produced just one test model nuclear submarine, one which incorporated a pair of experimental VT-1 nuclear reactors that used a liquid-metal coolant ,...

 reactor accident (1968), and the K-431
Soviet submarine K-431
The Soviet submarine K-431 was a Soviet nuclear-powered submarine that had a reactor accident on August 10, 1985. An explosion occurred during refueling of the submarine at Chazhma Bay, Vladivostok...

 reactor accident (1985). International research is continuing into safety improvements such as passively safe plants, and the possible future use of nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

.

Nuclear power has caused far fewer accidental deaths per unit of energy generated than other major forms of power generation. Energy production from coal, natural gas, and hydropower have caused far more deaths due to accidents. However, nuclear power plant accidents rank first in terms of their economic cost, accounting for 41 percent of all property damage attributed to energy accidents
Energy accidents
Energy resources bring with them great social and economic promise, providing financial growth for communities and energy services for local economies. However, the infrastructure which delivers energy services can breakdown, sometimes causing much damage. 279 major energy accidents occurred from...

.

Nuclear proliferation


Many technologies and materials associated with the creation of a nuclear power program have a dual-use capability, in that they can be used to make nuclear weapons if a country chooses to do so. When this happens a nuclear power program can become a route leading to the atomic bomb or a public annex to a secret bomb program. The crisis over Iran's nuclear activities
Nuclear program of Iran
The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

 is a case in point.

A fundamental goal for American and global security is to minimize the nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 risks associated with the expansion of nuclear power. If this development is "poorly managed or efforts to contain risks are unsuccessful, the nuclear future will be dangerous".

A "number of high-ranking officials, even within the United Nations, have argued that they can do little to stop states using nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s to produce nuclear weapons". A 2009 United Nations report said that:

The revival of interest in nuclear power could result in the worldwide dissemination of uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies, which present obvious risks of proliferation as these technologies can produce fissile materials that are directly usable in nuclear weapons.

Environmental issues




Life cycle analysis (LCA) of carbon dioxide emissions show nuclear power as comparable to renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 sources. Emissions from burning fossil fuels are many times higher.

Climate change


Climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 causing weather extremes such as heat waves, reduced precipitation levels and droughts can have a significant impact on nuclear energy infrastructure. Seawater is corrosive and so nuclear energy supply is likely to be negatively affected by the fresh water shortage. This generic problem may become increasingly significant over time. This can force nuclear reactors to be shut down, as happened in France during the 2003 and 2006 heat waves. Nuclear power supply was severely diminished by low river flow rates and droughts, which meant rivers had reached the maximum temperatures for cooling reactors. During the heat waves, 17 reactors had to limit output or shut down. 77% of French electricity is produced by nuclear power and in 2009 a similar situation created a 8GW shortage and forced the French government to import electricity. Other cases have been reported from Germany, where extreme temperatures have reduced nuclear power production 9 times due to high temperatures between 1979 and 2007. In particular:
  • the Unterweser nuclear power plant
    Unterweser Nuclear Power Plant
    The nuclear power station Unterweser is a nuclear power plant in Kleinensiel , in close proximity to Nordenham.When it first started up, it was the largest nuclear reactor in the world. It has 193 fuel assemblies...

     reduced output by 90% between June and September 2003
  • the Isar nuclear power plant cut production by 60% for 14 days due to excess river temperatures and low stream flow in the river Isar in 2006

Similar events have happened elsewhere in Europe during those same hot summers. If global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 continues, this disruption is likely to increase.

Plant decommissioning


The price of energy inputs and the environmental costs of every nuclear power plant continue long after the facility has finished generating its last useful electricity. Both nuclear reactors and uranium enrichment facilities must be decommissioned, returning the facility and its parts to a safe enough level to be entrusted for other uses. After a cooling-off period that may last as long as a century, reactors must be dismantled and cut into small pieces to be packed in containers for final disposal. The process is very expensive, time-consuming, dangerous for workers, hazardous to the natural environment, and presents new opportunities for human error, accidents or sabotage.

The total energy required for decommissioning can be as much as 50% more than the energy needed for the original construction. In most cases, the decommissioning process costs between US $300 million to US$5.6 billion. Decommissioning at nuclear sites which have experienced a serious accident are the most expensive and time-consuming. In the U.S. there are 13 reactors that have permanently shut down and are in some phase of decommissioning, but none of them have completed the process.

Debate on nuclear power


The nuclear power debate
Nuclear power debate
The nuclear power debate is about the controversy which has surrounded the deployment and use of nuclear fission reactors to generate electricity from nuclear fuel for civilian purposes...

 is about the controversy which has surrounded the deployment and use of nuclear fission reactors
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 to generate electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 from nuclear fuel
Nuclear fuel
Nuclear fuel is a material that can be 'consumed' by fission or fusion to derive nuclear energy. Nuclear fuels are the most dense sources of energy available...

 for civilian purposes. The debate about nuclear power peaked during the 1970s and 1980s, when it "reached an intensity unprecedented in the history of technology controversies", in some countries.

Proponents of nuclear energy contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy
Sustainable energy
Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

 source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security
Energy security
Energy security is a term for an association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. Access to cheap energy has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven distribution of energy supplies among countries has led...

 by decreasing dependence on imported energy sources. Proponents claim that nuclear power produces virtually no conventional air pollution, such as greenhouse gases and smog, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel. Nuclear power can produce base-load power unlike many renewables who are intermittent energy sources with large-scale and cheap ways of storing energy not existing. M. King Hubbert
M. King Hubbert
Marion King Hubbert was a geoscientist who worked at the Shell research lab in Houston, Texas. He made several important contributions to geology, geophysics, and petroleum geology, most notably the Hubbert curve and Hubbert peak theory , with important political ramifications. He was often...

 saw oil as a resource which would soon run out
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

, and believed uranium had much more promise as an energy source. Proponents claim that the risks of storing waste are small and can be further reduced by using the latest technology in newer reactors, and the operational safety record in the Western world is excellent when compared to the other major kinds of power plants.

Opponents believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. These threats include the problems of processing, transport and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 and terrorism, as well as health risks and environmental damage from uranium mining
Uranium mining
Uranium mining is the process of extraction of uranium ore from the ground. The worldwide production of uranium in 2009 amounted to 50,572 tonnes, of which 27% was mined in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia are the top three producers and together account for 63% of world uranium...

. They also contend that reactors themselves are enormously complex machines where many things can and do go wrong, and there have been serious nuclear accidents. Critics do not believe that the risks of using nuclear fission as a power source can be offset through the development of new technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

. They also argue that when all the energy-intensive stages of the nuclear fuel chain are considered, from uranium mining to nuclear decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning is the dismantling of a nuclear power plant and decontamination of the site to a state no longer requiring protection from radiation for the general public...

, nuclear power is not a low-carbon electricity source.

Arguments of economics
Economics of new nuclear power plants
The economics of new nuclear power plants is a controversial subject, since there are diverging views on this topic, and multi-billion dollar investments ride on the choice of an energy source...

 and safety
Nuclear safety
Nuclear safety covers the actions taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents or to limit their consequences. This covers nuclear power plants as well as all other nuclear facilities, the transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, power,...

 are used by both sides of the debate.

Against


  • Friends of the Earth International, a network of environmental organization
    Environmental organization
    An environmental organization is an organization that seeks to protect, analyze or monitor the environment against misuse or degradation or lobby for these goals....

    s in 77 countries.
  • Greenpeace International, a non-governmental
    Non-governmental organization
    A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

     environmental
    Environmentalism
    Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

     organization with offices in 41 countries.
  • Nuclear Information and Resource Service
    Nuclear Information and Resource Service
    The Nuclear Information and Resource Service is an anti-nuclear group founded in 1978 to be the information and networking center for citizens and organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues...

     (International)
  • Sortir du nucléaire (Canada)
    Sortir du nucléaire (Canada)
    Sortir du Nucléaire or the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout is a coalition of Canadian public interest organizations who have a platform of opposing nuclear power generation. CNP's mandate has been endorsed by over 300 public interest groups from across Canada...

  • Sortir du nucléaire (France)
    Sortir du nucléaire (France)
    Sortir du nucléaire is a French federation of about 800 anti-nuclear groups.Founded in 1997 as a result of the success of the struggle against the Superphénix, the organisation regularly campaigns against the use of nuclear power in France and in the world.In September 2007, Sortir du nucléaire...

  • Pembina Institute
    Pembina Institute
    The Pembina Institute is a Canadian not-for-profit think tank focused on developing innovative sustainable energy solutions. Founded in 1985, the Institute has offices in Calgary, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Yellowknife....

     (Canada)
  • Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
    Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
    The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research focuses on the environmental safety of nuclear weapons production, ozone layer depletion, and other issues relating to energy. IEER publishes a variety of books on energy-related issues, conducts workshops for activists on nuclear issues, and...

     (United States)

Supportive


  • World Nuclear Association
    World Nuclear Association
    The World Nuclear Association , formerly the Uranium Institute, is an international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry...

    , a confederation of companies connected with nuclear power production. (International)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency
    International Atomic Energy Agency
    The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

     (IAEA)
  • Nuclear Energy Institute
    Nuclear Energy Institute
    The Nuclear Energy Institute is a nuclear industry lobbying group in the United States.- Synopsis :According to its website, the NEI "develops policy on key legislative and regulatory issues affecting the industry. NEI then serves as a unified industry voice before the U.S...

     (United States)
  • American Nuclear Society
    American Nuclear Society
    The American Nuclear Society is an international, not-for-profit 501 scientific and educational organization with a membership of approximately 11,000 scientists, engineers, educators, students, and other associate members. Approximately 900 members live outside the United States in 40 countries....

     (United States)
  • United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
    United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
    The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is a UK government research organisation responsible for the development of nuclear fusion power. It is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and was formerly chaired by Lady Barbara Judge CBE...

     (United Kingdom)
  • EURATOM (Europe)
  • Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
    Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
    Atomic Energy of Canada Limited or AECL is a Canadian federal Crown corporation and Canada's largest nuclear science and technology laboratory...

      (Canada)
  • Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy
    Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy
    Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy is a pro-nuclear power non-profit organization. Their website states that environmental opposition to nuclear energy is the "greatest misunderstanding and mistake of the century"....

     (International)

Nuclear renaissance



Since about 2001 the term "nuclear renaissance" has been used to refer to a possible nuclear power industry revival, driven by rising fossil fuel prices
Price of petroleum
The price of petroleum as quoted in news generally refers to the spot price per barrel of either WTI/light crude as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, or of Brent as traded on the Intercontinental Exchange for delivery at Sullom Voe.The price...

 and new concerns about meeting greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 emission limits. Being able to rely on an uninterrupted domestic supply of electricity
Energy security
Energy security is a term for an association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. Access to cheap energy has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven distribution of energy supplies among countries has led...

 is also a factor. In the words of the French, "We have no coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, we have no oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, we have no gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, we have no choice." Improvements in nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 safety, and the public's waning memory of past nuclear accidents (Three Mile Island
Three Mile Island accident
The Three Mile Island accident was a core meltdown in Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg, United States in 1979....

 in 1979 and Chernobyl
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 in 1986), as well as of the plant construction cost overruns of the 1970s and 80s, are lowering public resistance to new nuclear construction.

At the same time, various barriers to a nuclear renaissance have been identified. These include: unfavourable economics compared to other sources of energy, slowness in addressing climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

, industrial bottlenecks and personnel shortages in nuclear sector, and the unresolved nuclear waste
High-level radioactive waste management
High-level radioactive waste management concerns management and disposal of highly radioactive materials created during production of nuclear power and nuclear warheads. The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to the extremely long periods radioactive wastes remain deadly to...

 issue. There are also concerns about more accidents, security, and nuclear weapons proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

.

New reactors under construction in Finland and France, which were meant to lead a nuclear renaissance, have been delayed and are running over-budget. China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 has 20 new reactors under construction, and there are also a considerable number of new reactors being built in South Korea, India, and Russia. At least 100 older and smaller reactors will "most probably be closed over the next 10-15 years".

However, in 2011 the nuclear emergencies
Timeline of the Fukushima nuclear accidents
For the timelines of the nuclear accidents at Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, see:* Timeline of the Fukushima I nuclear accidents* Timeline of the Fukushima II nuclear accidents...

 at Japan's Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
The , also known as Fukushima Dai-ichi , is a disabled nuclear power plant located on a site in the towns of Okuma and Futaba in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. First commissioned in 1971, the plant consists of six boiling water reactors...

 and other nuclear facilities raised questions among commentators over the future of the renaissance. Platts
Platts
Platts is a provider of energy and metals information and a source of benchmark price assessments in the physical energy markets. Platts was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1909 by Warren C...

 has reported that "the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plants has prompted leading energy-consuming countries to review the safety of their existing reactors and cast doubt on the speed and scale of planned expansions around the world". Many countries are re-evaluating their nuclear energy programs and in April 2011 a study by UBS predicted that around 30 nuclear plants may be closed world-wide as a result, with those located in seismic zones or close to national boundaries being the most likely to shut. The UBS analysts believe that 'even pro-nuclear counties such as France
Nuclear power in France
Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country's total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power , the highest percentage in the world....

 will be forced to close at least two reactors to demonstrate political action and restore the public acceptability of nuclear power', noting that the events at Fukushima 'cast doubt on the idea that even an advanced economy can master nuclear safety
Nuclear safety
Nuclear safety covers the actions taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents or to limit their consequences. This covers nuclear power plants as well as all other nuclear facilities, the transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, power,...

'.
Canadian uranium-mining company Cameco
Cameco
Cameco Corporation is the world's largest publicly traded uranium company, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 2009, it was the world's second largest uranium producer, accounting for 16% of world production.-History:...

 expects the size of world's fleet of operating reactors in 2020 to increase by about 90 reactors, 10% less than before the Fukushima accident.

Future of the industry


As of 2007, Watts Bar 1
Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station
The Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station is a Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear reactor used for electric power generation and tritium production for nuclear weapons. It is located on a 1,770-acre site in Rhea County, Tennessee, near Spring City, between the cities of Chattanooga and Knoxville...

 in Tennessee, which came on-line on February 7, 1996, was the last U.S. commercial nuclear reactor to go on-line. This is often quoted as evidence of a successful worldwide campaign for nuclear power phase-out. However, even in the U.S. and throughout Europe, investment in research and in the nuclear fuel cycle
Nuclear fuel cycle
The nuclear fuel cycle, also called nuclear fuel chain, is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of differing stages. It consists of steps in the front end, which are the preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, and steps in...

 has continued, and some nuclear industry experts predict electricity shortages, fossil fuel price increases, global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and heavy metal emissions from fossil fuel use, new technology such as passively safe plants, and national energy security will renew the demand for nuclear power plants.

According to the World Nuclear Association
World Nuclear Association
The World Nuclear Association , formerly the Uranium Institute, is an international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry...

, globally during the 1980s one new nuclear reactor started up every 17 days on average, and by the year 2015 this rate could increase to one every 5 days.

There is a possible impediment to production of nuclear power plants as only a few companies worldwide have the capacity to forge single-piece reactor pressure vessels, which are necessary in the most common reactor designs. Utilities across the world are submitting orders years in advance of any actual need for these vessels. Other manufacturers are examining various options, including making the component themselves, or finding ways to make a similar item using alternate methods. Other solutions include using designs that do not require single-piece forged pressure vessels such as Canada's Advanced CANDU Reactor
Advanced CANDU Reactor
The Advanced CANDU Reactor is a Generation III+ nuclear reactor design and is a further development of existing CANDU reactors designed by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. The ACR is a light-water-cooled reactor that incorporates features of both Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors and Advanced...

s or Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors
Sodium-cooled fast reactor
The sodium-cooled fast reactor or SFR is a Generation IV reactor project to design an advanced fast neutron reactor.It builds on two closely related existing projects, the LMFBR and the Integral Fast Reactor, with the objective of producing a fast-spectrum, sodium-cooled reactor.The reactors are...

.

China has 25 reactors under construction, with plans to build more, while in the US the licenses of almost half its reactors have been extended to 60 years, and plans to build another dozen are under serious consideration. China may achieve its long-term plan of having 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power capacity four to five years ahead of schedule. However, according to a government research unit, China must not build "too many nuclear power reactors too quickly", in order to avoid a shortfall of fuel, equipment and qualified plant workers.

The U.S. NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy have initiated research into Light water reactor sustainability which is hoped will lead to allowing extensions of reactor licenses beyond 60 years, in increments of 20 years, provided that safety can be maintained, as the loss in non-CO2-emitting generation capacity by retiring reactors "may serve to challenge U.S. energy security, potentially resulting in increased greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 emissions, and contributing to an imbalance between electric supply and demand."

Following the Fukushima I nuclear accidents, the International Energy Agency
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

 halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity to be built by 2035. Platts
Platts
Platts is a provider of energy and metals information and a source of benchmark price assessments in the physical energy markets. Platts was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1909 by Warren C...

 has reported that "the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plants has prompted leading energy-consuming countries to review the safety of their existing reactors and cast doubt on the speed and scale of planned expansions around the world". In 2011, The Economist reported that nuclear power "looks dangerous, unpopular, expensive and risky", and that "it is replaceable with relative ease and could be forgone with no huge structural shifts in the way the world works".

In early April 2011, analysts at Swiss-based investment bank UBS said: "At Fukushima, four reactors have been out of control for weeks, casting doubt on whether even an advanced economy can master nuclear safety . . .. We believe the Fukushima accident was the most serious ever for the credibility of nuclear power".

In 2011, Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

 analysts concluded that "the global impact of the Fukushima accident is a fundamental shift in public
perception with regard to how a nation prioritizes and values its populations health, safety, security, and natural environment when determining its current and future energy pathways". As a consequence, "renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 will be a clear long-term winner in most energy systems, a conclusion supported by many voter surveys conducted over the past few weeks. At the same time, we consider natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 to be, at the very least, an important transition fuel, especially in those regions where it is considered secure".

In September 2011, German engineering giant Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 announced it will withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry, as a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and said that it would no longer build nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. The company’s chairman, Peter Löscher, said that "Siemens was ending plans to cooperate with Rosatom, the Russian state-controlled nuclear power company, in the construction of dozens of nuclear plants throughout Russia over the coming two decades". Also in September 2011, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the Japanese nuclear disaster "caused deep public anxiety throughout the world and damaged confidence in nuclear power".

See also



  • Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
    Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
    The Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues is a searchable collection of vetted annotations and bibliographic information for resources including books, articles, films, CD-ROMs , and websites pertaining to nuclear topics...

  • Anti-nuclear protests
    Anti-nuclear protests
    Anti-nuclear protests first emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the United Kingdom, the first Aldermaston March, organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, took place in 1958. In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, about 50,000 women brought together by Women Strike for Peace...

  • German nuclear energy project
    German nuclear energy project
    The German nuclear energy project, , was an attempted clandestine scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce the atomic weapons during the events involving the World War II...

  • Linear no-threshold model
    Linear no-threshold model
    The linear no-threshold model is a method for predicting the long term, biological damage caused by ionizing radiation and is based on the assumption that the risk is directly proportional to the dose at all dose levels....

  • Nuclear power phase-out
    Nuclear power phase-out
    A nuclear power phase-out is the discontinuation of usage of nuclear power for energy production. Often initiated because of concerns about nuclear power, phase-outs usually include shutting down nuclear power plants and looking towards renewable energy and other fuels.Austria was the first country...

  • Nuclear weapons debate
    Nuclear weapons debate
    The nuclear weapons debate is about public controversies relating to the use and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Even before the first nuclear weapons had been developed, scientists involved with the Manhattan Project were divided over the use of the weapon. The Little Boy atomic bomb was detonated...

  • Uranium mining debate
    Uranium mining debate
    The uranium mining debate covers the political and environmental controversies of the mining of uranium for use in either nuclear power or nuclear weapons.-Background:...

  • World energy resources and consumption
    World energy resources and consumption
    ]World energy consumption in 2010: over 5% growthEnergy markets have combined crisis recovery and strong industry dynamism. Energy consumption in the G20 soared by more than 5% in 2010, after the slight decrease of 2009. This strong increase is the result of two converging trends...



Further reading


  • Clarfield, Gerald H. and William M. Wiecek (1984). Nuclear America: Military and Civilian Nuclear Power in the United States 1940-1980, Harper & Row.
  • Cooke, Stephanie
    Stephanie Cooke
    Stephanie S. Cooke is a journalist who began her reporting career in 1977 at the Associated Press. In 1980 she moved to McGraw-Hill in New York as a reporter for Nucleonics Week, NuclearFuel and Inside N.R.C. In 1984 she transferred to London and two years later covered the aftermath of the...

     (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc.
  • Elliott, David
    David Elliott (professor)
    David Elliott is Professor of Technology Policy at the Open University. He has created several courses in Design and Innovation, with special emphasis on how the innovation development process can be directed towards sustainable technologies...

     (2007). Nuclear or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in a Sustainable Energy Future?
    Nuclear or Not?
    Nuclear or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in a Sustainable Energy Future? is a 2007 book edited by Professor David Elliott. The book offers various views and perspectives on nuclear power...

    , Palgrave.
  • Falk, Jim (1982). Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power, Oxford University Press.
  • Ferguson, Charles D., (2007). Nuclear Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks Council on Foreign Relations
    Council on Foreign Relations
    The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

    .
  • Herbst, Alan M. and George W. Hopley (2007). Nuclear Energy Now: Why the Time has come for the World's Most Misunderstood Energy Source, Wiley.
  • Schneider, Mycle
    Mycle Schneider
    Mycle Schneider is a nuclear energy consultant based in Paris, and lead author of The World Nuclear Industry Status Reports...

    , Steve Thomas
    Stephen Thomas (professor)
    Stephen Thomas is a professor at the University of Greenwich Business School, working in the area of energy policy. Before moving to the University of Greenwich in 2001, Thomas worked for 22 years at the University of Sussex.-Research work:...

    , Antony Froggatt, Doug Koplow (August 2009). The World Nuclear Industry Status Report, German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety.
  • Walker, J. Samuel (2004). Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective
    Three Mile Island (book)
    Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective is a scholarly history of the Three Mile Island accident, written by J. Samuel Walker and published in 2004...

    , University of California Press.

External links