The recent events involving the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan have led to concern about the safety of our own nuclear plants in the U.S.
Since Three Mile Island, the construction of new nuclear plants has been halted, but there are currently 104 operational plants in the U.S., with a few of them located in Virginia. Louisa County has two plants and Dominion Virginia Power is trying to build another reactor in Louisa County.
One site is relatively close to my current location: the Surry nuclear power plant. This site has had reports of fires from degraded electrical equipment in the past two years and the company seems to have done a poor job addressing and even looking into these problems. These difficulties underscore the need to learn from the past of nuclear power if we are to have a safe future with it.
While the Virginia nuclear plants aren't close to the coast or earthquake faults, some other states' plants aren't so lucky. Most nuclear plants in the U.S. are also relatively old facilities, and much can be done to upgrade the safety and disaster preparedness of these vital energy generators.
Governor McDonnell has stated recently that he would like to see nuclear power's role in U.S. and Virginian energy production increase. It still seems unlikely that any comprehensive action can take place on our energy policy without a commitment to nuclear energy for political and practical reasons. Faced with this reality, great focus should be put on increasing safety and accountability going forward.