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NUCLEAR IN DECLINE

A new report out ten years after the Chernobyl disaster indicates that nuclear power is in worldwide decline. Indeed nuclear is no longer considered viable for most countries seeking new energy supplies, says the report, by the Safe Energy Communications Council and entitled "MYTHBusters #10." It further maintains that considerable challenges face nuclear even in countries where it is most successful, France and Japan. Only 34 nuclear plants were under construction, as of January 1996, with a combined capacity of 27,400 MW. That is the fewest in more than a quarter century, says the report. In addition: 84 reactors totalling 21,800 MW have been shut down; as of January 1, the average reactor operating life was just 17 years, instead of a projected 40 years; 434 reactors were in commercial operation, only nine more than in 1990, while generating capacity was just 3% higher than in 1990. In sum, nuclear's share of the energy market seems to have peaked at about 17% -- and even the International Atomic Energy Authority predicts that nuclear will have dropped to 13-15% of the world' power supply by 2015.

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