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« Michael Shellenberger: How fear of nuclear power is hurting the environment | Main | Second nuclear power unit at Kudankulam connected to Grid »

Can our need for a carbon-free future override our fears of nuclear energy? 

Unlike coal and natural gas plants that emit carbon emissions while producing electricity, nuclear generates none. So why aren’t more states getting onboard?

Nestled between Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, the Watts Bar 2 nuclear power plant sits on 1,700 acres in an area friendly to nuclear power. It’s near Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which might be best remembered for its work on the Manhattan Project. The 1,150-megawatt plant is undergoing testing to go fully online this month, and will join the existing 1,100-megawatt Watts Bar plant, which already provides 650,000 area homes with electricity that emits zero carbon emissions.

When Watts Bar 2 is fully operational, it will be the 100th operating nuclear power plant in the US, the country with the most nuclear power stations in the world.

Watts Bar 2 is making history for being the first nuclear power plant to be built in the US in two decades. Its existence also happens at a time when the role of nuclear power in the country’s energy future is uncertain. While states such as California are shutting down nuclear power plants over safety concerns, other states see nuclear power playing an important role in their march to replace fossil fuels with energy sources that emit little or no emissions. Georgia and South Carolina, for example, are currently building plants.

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