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Three Mile Island: The Driver of US Nuclear Power's Decline?


Publication Date: 
April 25, 2013
Journal Article
Bibliography: Nathan Hultman & Jonathan Koomey, Three Mile Island: The Driver of US Nuclear Power's Decline?, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [Forthcoming].

It is tempting to attribute variations in support for nuclear power to prominent accidents such as Three Mile Island in the United States or Fukushima in Japan. To illuminate how such attribution can be problematic, the authors discuss the historical context of the Three Mile Island accident in the United States. They point out that the US nuclear industry faced major challenges even before the 1979 accident: Forty percent of all US reactor cancellations between 1960 and 2010, they write, occurred before the accident in Pennsylvania. While safety concerns were undoubtedly a driver of public aversion to new nuclear construction in the United States, the nuclear industry already faced substantial economic and competitiveness obstacles, much like the nuclear industry worldwide before Fukushima.