The nuclear industry is threatened by controversy and misfortune. Partially constructed plants have been closed for several reasons. Construction costs have escalated, the demand for power has decreased, and the number of opponents to nuclear plants has increased tremendously. Nuclear energy, once expected to have a future with cheap, plentiful power, is currently reaching a deadlock.
The major cause of the deterioration in the nuclear industry is the complete failure at Three Miles Island. It is cornmon that machines break down and that people make errors, but when this happens at a nuclear plant, it can cause widespread disaster. It will take twenty years and more than a billion dollars (more than the cost to construct the plant) to clean up the nuclear plant at Three Miles Island. The most significant factor about the accident is, however, that it has destroyed the whole future of nuclear energy. Public opposition to nuclear plants, which existed but were still weak when the first nuclear plants were constructed, has become firm after the disastrous accident at Three Miles Island.
Nevertheless, the nuclear plants that were built twenty and thirty years ago continue to operate safely and economically. Smaller than more recently built plants, they have produced power that is consistently less expensive than power from coal or oil. Newer plants were larger, less safe, and managed and run by less qualified personnel. Many of these plants were designed and constructed so negligently that they are closed down.
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