Current Topics


Current or recent nuclear power related topics of interest to the general public include:

The purpose of this page is to provide some background on the issues and provide links to sites discussing the issues in greater detail.

Industry Consolidation

Over the past 5-10 years, the trend has been toward sale, or operating management transfer, of nuclear plants by smaller utilities to  larger utilities. In addition, similar sized utilities have merged. The net effect of these actions has been to increase the engineering and technical support resources available for the management of nuclear plants. Also, the trend has been to standardize procedures and operating practices across the various fleets of nuclear plants.

Design Basis  Reconstruction

Over the years, a number of architect-engineering organizations that designed the early large scale nuclear plants have either gone out of business or merged with others. As a result, the burden has fallen on the individual utilities to locally control the plant design. This has forced a significant workload on the engineering support staffs to keep the plant design and calculations current.

License Renewal

The original licenses for plant operation were issued for 40 years. Many plants will reach the end of the allowed license in the next 5 to 15 years. A number of plants have applied for extensions to allow continued operation. These applications are often filed 5 or more years before the end of the existing license. Such early requests allow time for the NRC to review the applications, related documentation, and ask questions and resolve any issues before the end of the current license term. The NRC has allowed a number of extensions. Concurrent with the approvals, NUREG-1437 Environmental impact statements and safety evaluations are issued. To date, safety evaluations and key NUREG documents issued include:

More recent safety evaluation reports may be found in the NRC Staff NUREG report index.

Recent Terrorism Events

The World Trade Center and Pentagon plane attacks have raised concern as to how nuclear plants are protected from such events. Suicidal attacks using airplanes fully loaded with fuel were not considered in the design basis. However, airliner crashes, nearby explosions, and fires have been considered in the design of most plants. The plant safety analysis and the Appendix R regulations govern these design requirements. 

In the 4 years since the 9/11 event, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has hardened the security of US civilian nuclear plants to greatly reduce the likelihood of them being a terrorist target. Each plant has multiple barriers, as shown below, to prevent intrusion.

Guards are stationed throughout the plants. Roving guards patrol the plants with automatic weapons. The Security page provides more detail.

Many visitor centers located on plant sites have been shutdown. However, interested school and industry groups can still schedule tours. The NRC has deleted a lot of plant-specific information from their website. However, they still have educational materials available in the students and teachers part of their site.

A number of visitors to this website have expressed concern about where the US nuclear plants are located. The NRC map and table below identify the locations of all plants. In addition, the table identifies the plant licensing docket number, plant type (BWR or PWR), plant owner (or operator), and NRC region that monitors the plant.

The page United States Reactor Information provides a more detaiiled imagemap. In addition, more detailed maps (e.g. with aerial views) are available under certain circumstances.

Plant Name Docket Number Reactor Type Location Owner/Operator NRC Region
Beaver Valley 1 50-334 PWR 17 MI W of McCandless,  PA FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. 1
Beaver Valley 2 50-412 PWR 17 MI W of McCandless,  PA FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. 1
Calvert Cliffs 1 50-317 PWR 40 MI S of Annapolis,  MD Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Inc. 1
Calvert Cliffs 2 50-318 PWR 40 MI S of Annapolis,  MD Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Inc. 1
FitzPatrick 50-333 BWR 8 MI NE of Oswego,  NY New York Power Authority 1
Ginna 50-244 PWR 20 MI NE of Rochester,  NY Rochester Gas & Electric Corp. 1
Hope Creek 1 50-354 BWR 18 MI SE of Wilmington,  NJ PSEG Nuclear, LLC 1
Indian Point 2 50-247 PWR 24 MI N of New York City,  NY Entergy Nuclear Opeations, Inc. 1
Indian Point 3 50-286 PWR 24 MI N of New York City,  NY Entergy Nuclear Opeations, Inc. 1
Limerick 1 50-352 BWR 21 MI NW of Philadelphia,  PA Exelon Generating Co. 1
Limerick 2 50-353 BWR 21 MI NW of Philadelphia,  PA Exelon Generating Co. 1
Millstone 2 50-336 PWR 3.2 MI WSW of New London,  CT Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. 1
Millstone 3 50-423 PWR 3.2 MI WSW of New London,  CT Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. 1
Nine Mile Point 1 50-220 BWR 6 MI NE of Oswego,  NY Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. 1
Nine Mile Point 2 50-410 BWR 6 MI NE of Oswego,  NY Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. 1
Oyster Creek 50-219 BWR 9 MI S of Toms River,  NJ AmerGen Energy Co., LLC 1
Peach Bottom 2 50-277 BWR 17.9 MI S of Lancaster,  PA Exelon Generating Co. 1
Peach Bottom 3 50-278 BWR 17.9 MI S of Lancaster,  PA Exelon Generating Co. 1
Pilgrim 1 50-293 BWR 4 MI SE of Plymouth,  MA Entergy Nuclear Generation Co. 1
Salem 1 50-272 PWR 18 MI S of Wilmington,  DE PSEG Nuclear, LLC 1
Salem 2 50-311 PWR 18 MI S of Wilmington,  DE Public Service Electric & Gas Co. 1
Seabrook 1 50-443 PWR 13 MI S of Portsmouth,  NH North Atlantic Energy Service Corp. 1
Susquehanna 1 50-387 BWR 7 MI NE of Berwick,  PA PPL Susquehanna, LLC 1
Susquehanna 2 50-388 BWR 7 MI NE of Berwick,  PA PPL Susquehanna, LLC 1
Three Mile Island 1 50-289 PWR 10 MI SE of Harrisburg,  PA AmerGen Energy Co., LLC 1
Vermont Yankee 50-271 BWR 5 MI S of Battleboro,  VT Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. 1
Browns Ferry 1 50-259 BWR 10 MI NW of Decatur,  AL Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Browns Ferry 2 50-260 BWR 10 MI NW of Decatur,  AL Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Browns Ferry 3 50-296 BWR 10 MI NW of Decatur,  AL Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Brunswick 1 50-325 BWR 2 MI N of Southport,  NC Carolina Power & Light Co. 2
Brunswick 2 50-324 BWR 2 MI N of Southport,  NC Carolina Power & Light Co. 2
Catawba 1 50-413 PWR 6 MI NW of Rock Hill,  SC Duke Energy Corp. 2
Catawba 2 50-414 PWR 6 MI NW of Rock Hill,  SC Duke Energy Corp. 2
Crystal River 3 50-302 PWR 7 MI NW of Crystal River,  FL Florida Power Corp. 2
Farley 1 50-348 PWR 18 MI SE of Dothan,  AL South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
Farley 2 50-364 PWR 18 MI SE of Dothan,  AL South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
Harris 1 50-400 PWR 20 MI SW of Raleigh,  NC Progress Energy 2
Hatch 1 50-321 BWR 11 MI N of Baxley,  GA South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
Hatch 2 50-366 BWR 11 MI N of Baxley,  GA South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
McGuire 1 50-369 PWR 17 MI S of Charlotte,  NC Duke Energy Corp. 2
McGuire 2 50-370 PWR 17 MI S of Charlotte,  NC Duke Energy Corp. 2
North Anna 1 50-338 PWR 40 MI NW of Richmond,  VA Virginia Electric & Power Co. 2
North Anna 2 50-339 PWR 40 MI NW of Richmond,  VA Virginia Electric & Power Co. 2
Oconee 1 50-269 PWR 30 MI W of Greenville,  SC Duke Energy Corp. 2
Oconee 2 50-270 PWR 30 MI W of Greenville,  SC Duke Energy Corp. 2
Oconee 3 50-287 PWR 30 MI W of Greenville,  SC Duke Energy Corp. 2
Robinson 2 50-261 PWR 26 MI from Florence,  SC Carolina Power & Light Co. 2
Saint Lucie 1 50-335 PWR 12 MI SE of Ft. Pierce,  FL Florida Power & Light Co. 2
Saint Lucie 2 50-389 PWR 12 MI SE of Ft. Pierce,  FL Florida Power & Light Co. 2
Sequoyah 1 50-327 PWR 9.5 MI NE of Chattanooga,  TN Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Sequoyah 2 50-328 PWR 9.5 MI NE of Chattanooga,  TN Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Summer 50-395 PWR 26 MI NW of Columbia,  SC South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. 2
Surry 1 50-280 PWR 17 MI NW of Newport News,  VA Virginia Electric & Power Co. 2
Surry 2 50-281 PWR 17 MI NW of Newport News,  VA Virginia Electric & Power Co. 2
Turkey Point 3 50-250 PWR 25 MI S of Miami,  FL Florida Power & Light Co. 2
Turkey Point 4 50-251 PWR 25 MI S of Miami,  FL Florida Power & Light Co. 2
Vogtle 1 50-424 PWR 26 MI SE of Augusta,  GA South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
Vogtle 2 50-425 PWR 26 MI SE of Augusta,  GA South Nuclear Operating Co., Inc. 2
Watts Bar 1 50-390 PWR 10 MI S of Spring City,  TN Tennessee Valley Authority 2
Braidwood 1 50-456 PWR 24 MI SSW of Joilet,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Braidwood 2 50-457 PWR 24 MI SSW of Joilet,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Byron 1 50-454 PWR 17 MI SW of Rockford,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Byron 2 50-455 PWR 17 MI SW of Rockford,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Clinton 50-461 BWR 6 MI E of Clinton,  IL AmerGen Energy Co., LLC 3
D.C. Cook 1 50-315 PWR 11 MI S of Benton Harbor,  MI Indiana Michigan Power Co. 3
D.C. Cook 2 50-316 PWR 11 MI S of Benton Harbor,  MI Indiana Michigan Power Co. 3
Davis-Besse 50-346 PWR 21 MI ESE of Toledo,  OH FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. 3
Dresden 2 50-237 BWR 9 MI E of Morris,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Dresden 3 50-249 BWR 9 MI E of Morris,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Duane Arnold 50-331 BWR 8 MI NW of Cedar Rapids,  IA Nuclear Management Co., LLC 3
Fermi 2 50-341 BWR 25 MI NE of Toledo,  MI Detriot Edison Co. 3
Kewaunee 50-305 PWR 27 MI E of Green Bay,  WI Nuclear Management Corp. 3
La Salle 1 50-373 BWR 11 MI SE of Ottawa,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
La Salle 2 50-374 BWR 11 MI SE of Ottawa,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Monticello 50-263 BWR 30 MI NW of Minneapolis,  MN Nuclear Management Co. 3
Palisades 50-255 PWR 5 MI S of South Haven,  MI Consumers Energy Co. 3
Perry 1 50-440 BWR 7 MI NE of Painesville,  OH FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. 3
Point Beach 1 50-266 PWR 13 MI NNW of Manitowoc,  WI Nuclear Management Co., LLC 3
Point Beach 2 50-301 PWR 13 MI NNW of Manitowoc,  WI Nuclear Management Co., LLC 3
Prairie Island 1 50-282 PWR 28 MI SE of Minneapolis,  MN Nuclear Management Co. 3
Prairie Island 2 50-306 PWR 28 MI SE of Minneapolis,  MN Nuclear Management Co. 3
Quad Cities 1 50-254 BWR 20 MI NE of Moline,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Quad Cities 2 50-265 BWR 20 MI NE of Moline,  IL Exelon Generating Co. 3
Arkansas Nuclear 1 50-313 PWR 6 MI WNW of Russellville,  AR Entergy Operations, Inc. 4
Arkansas Nuclear 2 50-368 PWR 6 MI WNW of Russellville,  AR Entergy Operations, Inc. 4
Callaway 50-483 PWR 10 MI SE of Fulton,  MO Union Electric Co. 4
Columbia 50-397 BWR 12 MI NW of Richland,  WA Energy Northwest 4
Comanche Peak 1 50-445 PWR 4 MI N of Glen Rose,  TX TXU Electric & Gas 4
Comanche Peak 2 50-446 PWR 4 MI N of Glen Rose,  TX TXU Electric & Gas 4
Cooper 50-298 BWR 23 MI S of Nebraska City,  NE Nebraska Public Power District 4
Diablo Canyon 1 50-275 PWR 12 MI WSW of San Luis Obispo,  CA Pacific Gas & Electric Co. 4
Diablo Canyon 2 50-323 PWR 12 MI WSW of San Luis Obispo,  CA Pacific Gas & Electric Co. 4
Fort Calhoun 50-285 PWR 19 MI N of Omaha,  NE Omaha Public Power District 4
Grand Gulf 1 50-416 BWR 25 MI S of Vicksburg,  MS Entergy Operations, Inc. 4
Palo Verde 1 50-528 PWR 36 MI W of Phoenix,  AZ Arizona Public Service Co. 4
Palo Verde 2 50-529 PWR 36 MI W of Phoenix,  AZ Arizona Public Service Co. 4
Palo Verde 3 50-530 PWR 36 MI W of Phoenix,  AZ Arizona Public Service Co. 4
River Bend 1 50-458 BWR 24 MI NNW of Baton Rouge,  LA Entergy Operations, Inc. 4
San Onofre 2 50-361 PWR 4 MI SE of San Clemente,  CA South California Edison Co. 4
San Onofre 3 50-362 PWR 4 MI SE of San Clemente,  CA South California Edison Co. 4
South Texas 1 50-498 PWR 12 MI SSW of Bay City,  TX STP Nuclear Operating Co. 4
South Texas 2 50-499 PWR 12 MI SSW of Bay City,  TX STP Nuclear Operating Co. 4
Waterford 3 50-382 PWR 20 MI W of New Orleans,  LA Entergy Operations, Inc. 4
Wolf Creek 1 50-482 PWR 3.5 MI NE of Burlington,  KS Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. 4

The page United States Reactor Information provides a more detaiiled imagemap. In addition, more detailed maps (e.g. with aerial views) are available under certain circumstances.

Recent Events at Nuclear Plants

The NRC maintains several pages on recent events.

Recent significant events and hot topics addressed by the NRC include:

The NRC biennially periodically updates NUREG-1350, Information Digest.

Department of Energy and Private Spent Fuel Storage Facilities

By law, the spent fuel and the plutonium in the fuel has always belonged to the US government. In the 60's and 70's, utilities expected to be able to send the spent fuel to a reprocessing facility after about 1.5 to 2 years storage in the cooling pools onsite. President Carter restricted this option because of concern about plutonium proliferation. As a result, in the 80's utilities were forced to expand the storage space onsite by "re-racking" their storage racks in the storage pools. Subsequently in the 90's, a number of plants started using large metal spent fuel storage casks onsite.

In 1982, Congress charged the Department of Energy (DOE) to start accepting spent fuel for long term storage starting in January 31, 1998. This law required the utilities to collect a fee for the government.  Throughout the various government administrations since that time, DOE has continued to move back the projected date when they can accept spent fuel.. At the same time, DOE has been using the "waste fund" money for purposes not directly related to spent fuel storage. As a result, a number of utilities sued DOE to require them to take the spent fuel as a contractual obligation.

In the 90's, the utilities realized that DOE would be unable to meet their needs with re-racking and onsite storage . Some have initiated projects with Indian communities, as sovereign entities, to allow interim storage until the DOE waste repository is available. Current projects are progressing in Utah. The following sites provide background on the issue:

Congress approved Yucca Mountain, Nevada for the final storage of the spent nuclear fuel.

Privatization of US Nuclear Fuel Enrichment Program and Use of Russian Highly Enriched Materials

Fuel used in commercial nuclear reactors, usually in the uranium dioxide form, contains 3 to 5% uranium-235. The remainder of the uranium is U-238. Since the 1940's, the U.S. government has controlled the enrichment process. Plants in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio used gaseous diffusion to concentrate the U-235. In Europe, the newer gas centrifuge process is used. In the 90's, the U.S. government decided to privatize the enrichment facilities through formation of the United States Enrichment Corporation. In addition, the United States entered into an agreement with Russia to purchase highly enriched uranium (greater than 20% U-235) from material removed from disassembled weapons. As a result of these purchases, the U.S. will require less use of the enrichment facilities. In the 2008-2010 timeframe, the Russian materials should account for ~ 50% of the U.S. enriched uranium needs.

Sites providing information on this issue are:

Effects of Low Levels of Radiation Exposure

For many years, the US has typically considered radiation, even at low levels, to present some harm. This model is referred to as the "linear, no-threshold (LNT)" hypothesis. Over the years, successive scientific studies have been done resulting in publication of the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) reports. Recent versions have been published by the National Academies Press, whose documents may be viewed on-line for free; in some cases, the documents may be downloaded for free.

Recent studies have led to increasing debate about whether the LNT model is appropriate. Sites and searches providing information on this contentious issue are:

Transportation of Nuclear Waste

Since the 1960's, radioactive waste has been shipped by train or truck within the United States. In earlier days, spent naval and military reactors were shipped to the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Commercial spent fuel was shipped to West Valley, NY and Morris, Illinois. Throughout the period, low level waste shipments (e.g. spent resin) have gone to Barnwell, SC, Hanford, WA and Beatty, NV. Some groups have expressed concern about anticipated shipments of spent fuel assemblies to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. These concerns focus on transportation accidents. Prior to any major change in shipments (from the current 2400), public protection should be assured by addressing the issues - (1) what is the anticipated frequency and major routes for these shipments, (2) what is the anticipated frequency of accidents involving these shipments, (3) if accidents occur, is there sufficient containment to ensure there will not be radioactive release affecting the public or the environment due to expected causes -  rollover, fire, crash, (4) are local agencies familiar enough with emergency plans addressing radioactive materials.  If these questions can be satisfactorily addressed, then shipments could be expected to occur.

Sites addressing this issue are:

Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plants

Since the 1940's when the original government production reactors were built, nuclear plants have been built, shutdown, and decommissioned. Older commercial plants decommissioned have included Elk River (MN), Pathfinder (SD), Shippingport (PA), Shoreham (NY). More recently, plants undergoing decommissioning include - Yankee-Rowe (MA), Connecticut Yankee (CT), Maine Yankee (ME), Trojan (OR), Humboldt Bay and Rancho Seco (CA), and Zion (IL).

Pages that address how decommissioning is conducted and the issues that must be addressed include:


Copyright 1996-2006.  The Virtual Nuclear Tourist. All rights reserved. Revised: February 10, 2006.