Sunday, May 06, 2007

Nuclear Power Making a Comeback

The TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant is coming back online:

All signs from regulators and operators point to a startup within days of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Unit 1 reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala., culminating a five-year, $1.8 billion restoration.

Mothballed since 1985, TVA's oldest reactor was the scene of a major fire sparked by a candle three decades ago. It has been reborn as a modern 1,200-megawatt atomic generator capable of lighting 650,000 homes.

The reactor is the last of three Browns Ferry units designed in the 1960s, run in the 1970s, idled in the 1980s, and revived since the 1990s. It will be this country's first "new" nuclear generator of the 21st century -- the 104th active commercial reactor.

Though no one has applied to build a new nuclear plant in the United States since the 1970s, several are now being planned.

It will be interesting to see to what degree nuclear power will be embraced by the environmental community, and whether it will lead to nuclear power advocacy among leaders in both parties.