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Sen. Alexander proposes building 100 nuclear power plants

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee proposed building 100 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years to solve short-term energy needs. He made the announcement Wednesday at the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit in Oak Ridge.

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Finding Uranium in the U.S.

Every year the nation's 104 nuclear reactors burn through 55 million pounds of uranium to produce electricity. Yet only 3.5 million pounds are mined in the U.S. "We're more dependent on foreign uranium than we are on foreign oil," says Amir Adnani, chief executive of Uranium Energy Corp., a tiny mining outfit headquartered in Austin, Tex. that aims to make us less dependent.

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Eastern Europe is promoting nuclear energy

Eastern Europe is promoting nuclear energy as the only way to tackle climate change and reduce dependence on Russian gas, in spite of costs of going nuclear that it cannot meet.

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Bring back mothballed nuclear reactors

OTTAWA -- As doctors and their patients struggle with a growing shortage of the medical isotopes used to treat cancer and other diseases, the federal government is coming under renewed pressure to fire up two nuclear reactors that were to be the backups to the rusting and leaky Chalk River, Ont., reactor where most of those isotopes are produced.

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Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is energy which is produced with the use of a controlled nuclear reaction. Many nations use nuclear power plants to generate electricity for both civilian and military use, and some nations also utilize nuclear power to run parts of their naval fleets, especially submarines. Some people favor an expansion of nuclear power plants because this form of energy is considered cleaner than fossil fuels such as coal, although nuclear power comes with a number of problems which must be addressed, including the safe disposal of radioactive waste products.

The process of generation nuclear power starts with the mining and processing of uranium and other radioactive elements. These elements are used to feed the reactor of a nuclear power plant, generating a reaction known as fission which creates intense heat, turning water in the plant into steam. The steam powers steam turbines, which generate electricity and feed the electricity into the electrical grid.

When nuclear power is used to power something like a submarine, the reactor runs the engines, with the steam directly powering the engines. In both cases, the reactor requires careful supervision, because runaway nuclear reactions must be stopped as quickly as possible to prevent serious problems. Many nuclear power plants have extensive automated systems which help to identify potential trouble spots, and these systems can also re-route power, turn off parts of the plant, and perform other tasks which make the plant safer and cleaner.

One of the advantages of nuclear power is that it does not produce greenhouses gases. It does, however, produce hazardous waste. Spent nuclear fuel is radioactive and extremely dangerous, requiring a substantial infrastructure to secure the power plant and to handle the fuel. Unfortunately, some nations do not have adequate measures for handling their spent fuel in place, and it is not uncommon to see temporary� solutions for the storage of nuclear material which last for decades.

The process of mining and refining the necessary radioactive elements used in a nuclear power plant is also not very clean, and these elements require secure transport, which can add to the cost of nuclear power significantly. Several nations have instituted a moratorium on the development of nuclear power until these problems have been addressed.
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Find out what you need to
know on Nuclear Power
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The loading of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel into the third reactor of the Genkai nuclear power plant in Japan has been postponed
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Italy's ENEL may join Russia
nuclear power plant
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India expands nuclear ambitions
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