From AP via smh.com.au :
May 25, 2006 - 2:59PM
US President George W Bush says nuclear power is an over-regulated industry that needs a jump start from Washington.
He wants to expand nuclear power generation with promise to deal with radioactive waste, lessen regulations and revive nuclear fuel processing.
Visiting a nuclear plant at Limmerick near Philadelphia today, Bush donned a white hard hat and spoke to employees in the shadow of two enormous cooling towers.
Bush argued that nuclear power was abundant, affordable, safe and clean.
"For the sake of economic security and national security, the United States of America must aggressively move forward with the construction of nuclear power plants," Bush said. "Other countries are."
Some environmentalists have abandoned their opposition to nuclear power, arguing it is needed to address climate change because reactors do not produce "greenhouse" gases as do fossil fuels.
Other environmentalists are not convinced, citing worries about reactor waste and safety.
"The debate needs to fully address such vital issues as the exorbitant cost of building new nuclear facilities, the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the disposal of radioactive wastes," said Thomas Cochran, director of the Natural Resources Defence Council's nuclear program.
Limerick is the second nuclear power plant Bush has seen in less than a year.
He is the first US president to visit a nuclear power plant since then President Billy Carter went to Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear plant after it partially melted down in 1979, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Bush touted a range of ways he wants to make the US less dependent on hydrocarbons, including promoting ethanol-, hydrogen- and battery-powered cars, clean-coal technology, wind and solar power and liquefied natural gas.
"If we haven't done something about our energy situation, we're not going to be able to compete in the world," the president said.
There are 100 nuclear power plants scattered across 31 US states, but an order has not been placed for a new reactor since 1973.
A broad energy bill Bush signed last northern summer provides incentives for building again, and Bush said interest is up eight-fold.
The American public is evenly divided on the question of building more nuclear plants, recent polling has found.
The Bush administration also wants Congress to approve $US250 million ($A330 million) - a small downpayment - to accelerate a decade-long research program into reprocessing nuclear fuel, which advocates say would pose much less risk and reduce the amount of reactor waste that eventually would have to be buried.
The House voted last night to scale back the amount of money appropriated for the research program to $US130 million ($A173 million).
The United States abandoned nuclear fuel reprocessing in the 1970s because of proliferation concerns.
"Nuclear power helps us protect the environment and nuclear power is safe," Bush said.