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We’re not the only ones who’ve been writing about nuclear power this week. While state Sen. Christine Kehoe revived the topic at a Monday hearing, newspapers across the country have been looking at the broader implications of the nuclear industry’s resurgence.

In a lengthy article today, USA Today examines the increased scrutiny being given to nuclear power safety as a result.

Critics and advocates of nuclear power generally agree that improvements in equipment and employee training have helped to make nuclear plants safer since the partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island.

Watchdog groups, however, say that unless nuclear safety and security improve, the USA’s expansion of its nuclear power industry — which now involves 104 reactors that supply about 20% of the nation’s electricity — could pose risks to nearby communities.

“Serious safety problems” plague U.S. nuclear plants because the NRC isn’t adequately enforcing its standards and has cut back on inspections, according to a report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a nuclear safety watchdog group.

The Wall Street Journal offers perspective today about what nuclear plants’ upcoming license renewals could spell for the industry as a whole:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is logging the first serious challenges to requests by operators that want to extend operating licenses for existing plants by 20 years. Opponents have been stepping up efforts to force retirements, especially in the densely populated Northeast.

Analysts generally believe license extensions will be granted. But some are watching for signs a successful challenge could be started. “Anything that improves cash-flow prospects or makes you doubt whether license extensions will happen materially affects valuations” of companies with nuclear plants, said Paul Fremont, analyst at Jefferies & Co. in New York.

ROB DAVIS

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