Japan's Nuclear Crisis and U.S. Safety

2011
Produced by energynownews

NUCLEAR NATION: Following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one of its nuclear power plants is on the verge of multiple meltdowns. Now, many in this country are asking whether U.S. plants can withstand such a disaster. Chief correspondent Tyler Suiters looks at how American nuclear plants could be vulnerable.

THE MIX: HOW DO GOVERNMENTS HANDLE A NUCLEAR CRISIS? Thalia Assuras interviews U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for a preview of possible federal action in the wake of Japan's emergency. Blackburn sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and her state is home to three working nuclear reactors as well as the only reactor under construction in the U.S.

THE MIX: SAFETY AND REGULATION IN THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY: Thalia speaks with Jarret Adams, spokesman for nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva, to find out how the nuclear industry can learn from Japan. Peter Bradford, a former NRC commissioner, thinks regulators are under pressure from Congress to keep plants running. And Arnie Gunderson, a nuclear engineer on a Vermont Yankee nuclear plant oversight panel, predicts many older plants wouldn't pass modern seismic evaluations. ENERGY THEN: FIRST NUCLEAR REACTOR: A newsreel from 1957 documents the opening of the nation's first privately-owned nuclear plant, in California, and touts the benefits of "power from a pioneer source." THE NEXT FRONTIER: "Mini nukes:" They're not something out of a spy thriller, they're a new generation of nuclear reactors that can power several thousand homes and might be safer than large reactors. Special correspondent Daniel Sieberg looks at this promising new technology that could make carbon-free energy cheaper, safer, and easier to build. THE HOT ZONE: UNDERWATER NUKES: France, which gets 80 percent of its power from nuclear, is looking at submerging small, modular reactors underwater as a way to increase safety. Some engineers there believe underwater reactors are less vulnerable to earthquakes or other natural disasters.