Despite the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan last March, nuclear power is experiencing a rebirth in the United States. Billions of dollars in federal funding has been allocated to develop nuclear capacity; applications are under consideration to build more than a dozen new reactors; and last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced approval for the construction of the first new nuclear reactors in more than three decades.
But what about the nation’s existing fleet of aging reactors? Licensed to operate for 40 years, many of these plants are steadily, if quietly, getting extensions from the NRC. Seventy-one of the nation’s 104 plants already have won approval for 20-year extensions. This video takes a closer look into surprising problems in the NRC’s oversight of aging nuclear plants.