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Approval of new nuclear reactors near

The Three Mile Island nuclear plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Penn. There are plans in the works for the first new nuclear plant in the U.S. since Three Mile Island's meltdown 30 years ago.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story misstated the number of new nuclear reactors to be built in Georgia. There are two. The headline and text have been corrected.

Adriene Hill: We're coming up on a year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. And since then, we haven't heard much about new nuclear power plants going up anywhere -- until now. As soon as this week, regulators are expected to green-light construction of two new nuclear power reactors in Georgia. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: The U.S. hasn't had a new nuclear reactor in more than more than 30 years, not since the Three Mile Island meltdown. Matthew Bunn at the Harvard Kennedy School says that changed the industry.

 

Matthew Bunn: Costs escalated through the roof, and public support has not been that great.

It's been tough to raise the billions needed for new reactors. The Georgia project would add a third and fourth reactor to two already operating. All four will be run by a utility called The Southern Company. It got a financial boost from government subsidies.

Bunn: The hope was to replace dirty coal with cleaner nuclear.

Was the hope. Sam Jaffe at IDC Energy insights says the Georgia nuclear plant is a straggler from old policy, not the start of a trend, because the entire utility industry has a new focus.

Sam Jaffe: We're quickly heading toward one single generation source, which is natural gas.

Natural gas is cheap right now. Power plants that use it are not hard to build. And while there are public concerns over how we get that natural gas -- namely, fracking -- people still don't fear that as much as a nuclear meltdown. I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.
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