United States once considered offshore nuclear reactors

At a time when the Interior Department is selling offshore wind power rights, a federal researcher notes there was once a time when the United States considered licensing offshore nuclear energy reactors.

In the early 1970s Offshore Power Systems (OPS), a joint venture by Westinghouse and Tenneco, proposed manufacturing identical 1,200 MW plants at a $200m facility near Jacksonville, Fla., said Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Historian Thomas Wellock.

Wellock revisited the history of the unsuccessful effort to develop a U.S. offshore reactor in a two-part blog post on Sept. 24 and Sept. 24.

Wellock noted that in July Russia announced plans to build the world’s first floating nuclear power plant to supply 70 MW of electricity to isolated communities. “If successful, the plan would bring to fruition an idea hatched in the United States nearly a half-century ago,” Wellock writes in one of the postings.

In the 1970s nuclear site selection had ground to a near halt in the Northeast and the West Coast due to public opposition, seismic worries and environmental concerns.

In July 1971, a federal court complicated siting further by forcing the NRC’s predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, to develop thorough Environmental Impact Statements for nuclear plant projects, Wellock writes.

The NRC blog can be found at http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/?blogsub=confirming#blog_subscription-2


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.