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California Energy Comm seeks stop on N plants

Written by: Staff

Phoenix, May 10: In its first comprehensive look at nuclear power in nearly 30 years, the California Energy Commission has voted in favour of a moratorium on construction of nuclear plants.

Earlier, California had barred construction of nuclear plants since 1976.

The 198-page report has put California at odds with the Bush administration, which has advocated nuclear power development in the face of rising gas prices and as a way to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.

The Commission issued the report which was triggered by the ''renewed enthusiasm'' about nuclear power in Washington and overseas.

Earlier this year, a public opinion survey sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, had found that only 40 per cent of the people see nuclear power as safe and supported setting up of new plants in the United States.

Nuclear power is reviving around the world. Eight new nuclear plants came on line last year. Globally, 443 ''nukes'' are in operation today.

With support and subsidies from the federal government, there are reports that nine companies, consortiums or joint ventures have firm plans for at least 12 and perhaps as many as 20 new plants.

Notwithstanding the California Energy Commission report, American Nuclear Power Industry is set to roll out a multilayer advertising campaign to build public support for setting up new power plants.

The campaign, based around a theme of ''nuclear renaissance'', is aimed to support President Bush's nuclear-energy inatative.

In this direction, the nuclear industry has hired Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Patric Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, to lead a public relations campaign for new reactors.

The industry has also released a list of 58 companies and institutions and 10 people who would engage in ''grass-roots advocacy''.

California gets about 13 per cent of its electricity from three nuclear power plants, two in California and one in Arizona.

The two plants in California store the potentially hazardous waste on the site. The commission had expressed serious concern about the disposal of nuclear waste as one of the reasons against new plants.


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