After years of trying to build an unpopular nuclear waste dump in South Australia, Prime Minister John Howard has reversed himself and abandoned the project, fearing a voter backlash. "As he pressed the flesh in four key marginal seats, Mr. Howard became acutely aware of the resentment in the community over a nuclear dump being forced on the state and the potential electoral fallout," report Paul Starick and Leanne Craig. "Having declared repeatedly that his government is only eight seats from oblivion, Mr. Howard needed to shake off the dump as an electoral liability. ...
"The once-moribund nuclear power business is undergoing a revival that is having a profound impact on academia and industry," reports the Chicago Tribune. Existing nuclear engineering programs are expanding, and new programs have been announced at three universities.
As part of its restructuring, the debt-laden nuclear power generator British Energy hired American Roy Anderson as its chief nuclear officer, created a new technical director position, and switched PR firms.
"People living in the affected villages are very distressed because the information they receive... is inconsistent," an International Atomic Energy Agency official said about the world's worst nuclear accident.
University of Texas professor Sheldon Landsberger has admitted that a pro-nuclear column he submitted under his own name to the Austin American-Statesman was actually written by the Potomac Communications Group, a Washington PR firm that works for the nuclear power industry. "For at least 25 years," reports William Adler, an employee of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee named Theodore M. Besmann (who moonlights for Potomac Communications) "has had published nuclear love songs in newspapers across the country, under his own or others' names."
Seven nuclear power companies announced a joint effort to "apply for a license to build a new commercial power plant" -- the first in 30 years. The consortium will "test a simplified licensing system created by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission... to help the industry go from reactor order to electricity production in 5 years, as opposed to the 10 or 12 years" it used to take.
"A quarter century ago this week, a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island [in Pennsylvania] underwent a partial meltdown... Since that time, no American utility has dared to build a brand new nuclear power plant... [But] power blackouts, rising natural-gas prices, and concerns about greenhouse gases have changed public attitudes," writes David Francis.