Moral Outrage
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How will the nuclear meltdown in Japan affect US nuclear energy?

The nuclear meltdown in Japan has become a greater crisis by the day. With the potential meltdown now ruled as a level six, according to Reuters, preventing total disaster is getting harder.

It might also be getting harder to avoid the implications for America’s energy policy. The issues could spread far beyond the Far East. In a time where America’s energy policy is so hotly debated, this problem stands to exacerbate the debate even further.

The New York Times reported this week that the Mark 1 nuclear reactors, those in use at the troubled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, were developed in the 1960s by General Electric. As far back as 1972, there were warnings in the States that, if a Mark 1 reactor’s cooling system failed, the fuel rods would overheat and, as a result, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would burst, spilling radiation into the environment.

There are still 23 of the same type of GE Mark 1 nuclear reactors operating in the United States.

President Obama is standing by nuclear energy now, but doing so in the next few days, weeks and months may be difficult to defend. There are already major protests over state budgets and union rights, as taking to the streets is a popular option nowadays. Could that spirit spark a revival of the old 1970s and 1980s nuclear power protests?

The recent debate over energy policy has revolved around oil, and how much we can really use. Yet oil is a relatively new bogeyman of the energy issue, as nuclear plants set the bar decades ago. Now they may return to America soon, and set off another struggle over the nuclear industry at large.

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