The Nuclear Option

According to an NYT report, President Obama has offered loan guarantees for two new reactors.

If the project goes forward, it would be the first nuclear reactor built in the United States since the 1970s.

In a speech in Lanham, Md., Mr. Obama announced government approval of an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help the Southern Company build two reactors in Burke County, Ga., near Augusta.

The proposal is to use an advanced passive design.  “Passive” means that if the reactor starts to overheat, the pace of fission automatically slows, so fewer safety devices are needed to prevent a meltdown.  The engineers I know think this is a great concept.

I continue to worry about the disposal end of the fuel cycle.  Costs are also a real concern with nuclear.  On the other hand, if we’re serious about calling climate change a crisis requiring serious action — and I for one am serious about that — we can’t rule out a plausible zero-carbon technology.