The Second World War had just ended and the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 established the Atomic Energy Commission, an organization run by civilians to oversee the countries nuclear reactors and programs. All of them owned and operated by the United States Government, under tight security and secrecy. There were no private companies involved. For the next decade much of the nuclear community was dedicated to the development of the H-bomb, in a race with communist Soviet Union, while keeping an eye on South Korea. Most of the enriched uranium was earmarked for weapons testing, it wasn't until 1951 that they began testing nuclear reactions to generate electric power. Nuclear reactor EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor I) in Arco, Idaho was the first to provide electrical power but the electrical output was minimal.
Then, shortly after the first H-bomb was successfully tested in 1953, along comes President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his famous, "Atoms for Peace" speech. In the speech he declared that peaceful power from atomic energy was no pipe dream, it was now viable. The Atoms for Peace plan also regulated the uranium stockpiles, which eventually evolved into the IAEA or the International Atomic Energy Agency. Access to previously secret information was now widely available to anyone in the world.
In 1956, the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity went online in Calder Hall, England. America's opened in 1957 in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.
By 1970, the nuclear power industry was starting to decline in growth due to cheaper oil and coal and people's perception, that nuclear power plants were dangerous. The following disasters sealed the future of the nuclear power industry, Windscale Fire—where the reactors cooling process failed and began to superheat, Three Mile Island—where the pumps that cooled the plant failed and it over heated, and Chernobyl—the most famous of nuclear disasters, where a power surge caused the reactor core to overheat. And now, there's the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
That wasn't the only problem, there was the issue of disposal. The half life of spent uranium is 100,000 years. Where to put it? There's no place on Earth to store it were it will be safe. At the present it is stored at the plants themselves, in temporary locations. Plans surfaced in 1980 about storing the spent nuclear garbage under the Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
It has never been built due to opposition and there are no other plans.
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