Nuclear Energy after Fukushima

The United States has long struggled over how to safely manage spent nuclear fuel. The ongoing significance of this policy issue was underscored in the aftermath of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. That disaster was prompted by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which triggered a catastrophic tsunami. In addition to damage to reactor cores, the Fukushima incident highlighted the risks posed by spent fuel stored at reactor sites.

Spent nuclear fuel in the United States is stored in a similar fashion, which has raised questions about whether aging U.S. nuclear power plants are as safe and secure, or as impervious to disaster, as had been believed. Nuclear energy remains an attractive alternative to coal or natural gas because it produces essentially no greenhouse gases. Tom LaTourrette will discuss the pros and cons of nuclear energy in a post-Fukushima world, and shed some light on lessons learned over the past year.