I’ve seen nuclear power plants in several states and often wondered just how much of our power comes from the controversial source. One such plant stands out in my memory; far out in the Arkansas countryside, surrounded by wooded hills and a deep river, the instantly recognizable cooling tower caught my eye. It made me wonder, why is nuclear energy so controversial anyway? I have to admit, the scene that day was idyllic. It didn’t match at all the way nuclear power has traditionally been portrayed in the movies or on TV. What I saw was a prosperous area full of people a mere stone’s throw from the plant. I’m talking about boaters and skiers literally in the shadow of those cooling towers. In the course of my research I found that I had
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Of course the public was made aware of the situation, and all hell broke loose. It was that event that essentially ended nuclear power’s seemingly bright future. According to the NRC report, no workers or members of the nearby community were injured as a result of the accident. Given this, why was construction of plants that received approval after 1973 halted and no new permits granted for nearly 30 years? TMI in Pennsylvania was the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, and there were no injuries or deaths? Why did that cause the nuclear energy industry then to be essentially put on ice? The answer probably lies in the way Americans perceived anything with the word “nuclear” attached to it.
For nearly 40 years prior to that fateful close call at TMI the United States and the U.S.S.R. faced off in the Cold War. The world had witnessed the destruction wreaked on the people of Japan by American atomic bombs, and during the Cold War the country lived under the threat of “mutually assured annihilation” as each superpower aimed ever-increasing stockpiles of nuclear warheads at each other. American film did it’s best to show what the world would look like in the event this war went hot. Schoolchildren practiced what to do if atomic bombs began to drop. Children learned to fear nuclear energy at an early age and were constantly reminded of the threat of an all-out nuclear war in the media. The problem