Facing South

Nuclear industry turns South

Facing South
Facing South
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The New York Times has a revealing story today about Gaffney, South Carolina -- for all who have driven down I-85 through upstate SC, it's home of the famous "Gaffney Peach" -- and how residents are embracing a nuclear power as a possible boon for the economy:

"I'm not worried at all about putting in a new nuclear power plant," said Mr. Whelchel, 76. "We're used to nuclear power around here. Plus, it'll create jobs, and one thing I've learned is that working people are happy people."

More than a quarter century after the accident at Three Mile Island and two decades after Chernobyl, America's utilities stand at the early edge of what promises to be the first large-scale wave of nuclear plant construction since the 1980's.

And the energy companies are finding - especially in the small, struggling Southeastern towns like Gaffney where most of the plants are planned - that memories of those tragedies have faded and that local governments and residents, eager for jobs and tax revenues to replace vanished industries, are embracing them with enthusiasm.

The mix of stagnating or depressed economies, plus lax environmental standards and powerful utility interests, make Southern communities an easy target for the nuke industry. But what happens if there is another Three Mile Island?

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