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Japan crisis revives U.S. nuclear debate

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:19

Mar 16 - In the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in northern Japan, the debate over the safety of nuclear energy has been re-ignited in America. Jon Decker reports.

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL In the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in northern Japan, the debate over the safety of nuclear energy has been re-ignited in America. Experts say the United States has 23 nuclear power plants that share the same design as the Daiichi plant. And while U.S. officials have said it's too early to draw any conclusions, U.S. President Barack Obama has said he remains committed to nuclear energy-- which provides about 20 percent of the country's electricity. White House spokesman Jay Carney. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN JAY CARNEY, SAYING: "More broadly, I would just say that he's committed to a multi-dimensional, or multi-source approach to our energy needs in the future. Nuclear is one of those sources, and he believes that we need to proceed responsibly, with the safety and security of the American people in mind, and if we can do that, nuclear can continue to be an element in our energy arsenal." The concern in America over nuclear power's safety is nothing new. Since the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, many Americans have been reticent about the industry and the safety of its reactors. Kevin Kamps is a radioactive waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, a group dedicated to ending nuclear energy and weapons development. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KEVIN KAMPS, RADIOACTIVE WASTE SPECIALIST AT BEYOND NUCLEAR, AN ANTI-NUCLEAR ENERGY ORGANIZATION, SAYING: "We need to phase out nuclear power as a safety matter, as a security matter, as a cost-savings matter. It's being trumpeted as some kind of solution for the climate crisis, but it's too expensive. It would take too long to deploy, and then it has these insurmountable risks, these inherent dangers that extend from nuclear weapons proliferation, wherever nuclear technology, to the potential for catastrophic nuclear radioactivity releases due to accidents or attacks, to the radioactive waste problem that has not been solved in nearly 70 years." While environmentalists say renewable energy - such as wind and solar power - could greatly reduce U.S. dependency on nuclear power, President Obama has requested up to $36 billion for loan guarantees to help build new nuclear reactors - arguing that they will help meet U.S. energy needs, fight climate change, and reduce America's dependence on fossil fuels. Jon Decker, Reuters.

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Japan crisis revives U.S. nuclear debate

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 02:19