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The Nation : U.S. A-Plant Production Found Lacking

U.S. nuclear power plants produced the lowest percentage of their potential capacity compared with reactors in five other major industrialized countries, a new study showed. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that while some U.S. nuclear reactors performed as efficiently as the best in other countries, the rest performed so badly they dragged down the average U.S. performance to 60% of capacity. “In all the other countries the performance has improved with time. The industry has collectively improved the problems,” said Kent Hansen, a professor of nuclear engineering who helped conduct the study. “The U.S. has not been able to do that. Performance has stayed uniformly mediocre,” said Hansen, whose study was published in the MIT magazine Technology Review. The researchers examined nuclear plant operation in the United States, Japan, Sweden, France, Switzerland and West Germany from 1975 to 1984. The study included every light-water reactor over 300 megawatts, including 80 U.S. plants. Light-water reactors are the most common type of reactor.


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