New Nukes

Smaller. Safer. Advanced reactor designs promise cheap electricity without pollution--if makers can overcome nuclear power's scary, costly reputation

Vladimir Weiss / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Employees of Skoda Jaderne Strojirenstvi AS. inspect the base of a core barrel manufactured for use in the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland, at the Skoda JS factory in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010.

Leslie Dewan was 1 year old in 1986 when the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine melted down. Dozens of people died in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, and clouds of radiation spread over parts of Europe, contributing to thousands of excess cancer deaths. But the fallout experienced by the nuclear-power industry was almost as dire. Although the meltdown at Chernobyl had more to do with the failures of Soviet engineering than with nuclear power itself, the industry was dealt a crippling blow by the worst accident in its history. In the U.S., where memories of the partial meltdown at Three...

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