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McCain Touts Expanded Nuclear Power

By Michael D. Shear

RAPID CITY, S.D. Sen. John McCain will travel to the Enrico Fermi 2 nuclear power plant near Monroe, Michigan today as he seeks to highlight his support for nuclear power as a key to the country's independence from foreign sources of energy.

But the visit is likely to raise questions about his frequent insistence that nuclear power is completely safe. The first Fermi reactor -- located next to the reactor that McCain will tour --
suffered a partial meltdown and was mothballed in 1972.

As he continues to focus on energy and gas prices, McCain has criticized Democrat Barack Obama for failing to be a strong advocate of nuclear power. In the process, McCain touts the safety record of the power plants.

"My friends, the United States Navy has sailed ships around the world for more than 50 years with nuclearpower plants on them and we've never had a single accident," McCain said last month at a town hall in Louisiana.

In fact, the U.S. Navy reported a leak in one of its nuclear-powered submarines just last week, saying that a sub leaked tiny amounts of radioactive water as it traveled around the globe.

The Navy said the leak from the U.S.S. Houston was negligible, but the report caused a stir in Japan after it was made public that the sub may have leaked while docked in a Japanese port.

McCain aides were not available this morning for comment about the submarine or the problems at the Fermi reactor. Last month, McCain was forced to cancel a similar publicity tour of a deep sea oil rig off the Louisiana coast after an oil spill in the Mississippi Rover sent
diesel fumes wafting across New Orleans.

As concern about oil and energy has spiked along with the price of gasoline, the Republican nominee has sought to highlight the difference between his position and Obama's on nuclear power.

McCain says he wants to build 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030. He regularly states that Obama opposes nuclear power as a solution to the nation's energy problems.

Obama officials deny that. In a statement released this morning, spokesman Bill Burton said that Obama "supports safe and clean nuclear energy. ... However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, Obama thinks key issues must be addressed including:
security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."

The two differ on how to handle radioactive waste created as a byproduct of nuclear generation. McCain supports using Yucca Mountain, a site in the Nevada desert, to store the waste. Obama opposes using the mountain as a nuclear waste storage facility.

McCain has also pushed the idea of reprocessing nuclear waste, as the French do. Obama has said he wants to deal with safety issues surrounding the storage and handling of spent nuclear fuel and has not said he supports reprocessing.

The nuclear debate plays out against a backdrop of decades of controversy with nuclear power plants, including major accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. There has not been a new nuclear power plant built in the U.S. in decades.

But other nations have increasingly turned to nuclear power for technology, believing the more modern plants to be safer. And some environmentalists have rethought the technology as they fight coal oil plants that belch carbons into the air.

By Post Editor  |  August 5, 2008; 10:35 AM ET
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Next: Obama and McCain Looking Out for No. 2


Don't you hate the warm squishy feeling, coupled with the panicky realization that you must stay EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE until everyone leaves, when you sit on a full colostomy bag? Yuck....

Posted by: JakeD | August 6, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

$300 million prize for battery-powered car technology will cut oil though ...

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Go all the way McCain, that is, back to Arizona!

This is problem with America when we start to talk about serious and complex issues like energy independence from foreign oil. A "dummy" like McCain simply repeats his campaign aides talking lines.

Nuclear Power is used in the generation of electricity. America only burns 1.6% of crude oil based products to generate electricity. Nearly 70% of the electricity generated in America comes from coal and natural gas. So increasing nuclear power, will not do much of anything about our usage of foreign oil!

Obama in 08!

Posted by: Obama-Junkie | August 5, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad this thread will be the last one up for a few days -- John Sidney McCain III supports lots of alternative energy plans -- see "wind, solar" etc.:

See you all after I go golfing!!!

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Money needs to be spent both on Nuclear Fission, and Fusion Plants.

Fission and Fusion?-YES!

Google the Difference.

One, is very clean, creates large amounts of energy from a VAST reserve, and NEEDS FUNDING!

In the Meantime, how about adding even just ONE refinery? Maybe some Coal to Oil Refineries for Diesel Fuel while you are at it!

WAIT! My Bad!

It's VACATION Time for Reps!

Worry about their Constituents!?

LOL! WHAT was I Thinking! :-(

Posted by: SAINT-The | August 5, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I would not be so uneasy about nuclear power I suppose if I wasnt of the generation that lived through Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and is now paying through the nose for the decommisioning of old nuclear power plants. Unlike generals, they just don't fade away.
I would also be more inclined if I really could believe that they would build one of these plants on time and under budget and without the numerous flaws that showed on the last generation of plants. Leaking just a little just doesnt make it.
I have been to France and other countries that really heavily on nuclear energy and I respect that it can be done well, I just dont see it in the US, where everyone involved is more interested in making a buck than creating something that is safe at the start and in the longer term and is truly economic.
I don;t say No Nukes, I say show me. I am sick of slick snake oil salesman trying to make a buck off the rest of us and put us and the environoment at risk. Just a little leaking is unacceptable; a full scale mistake would be a disaster

Posted by: nclwtk | August 5, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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