National Geographic : 1991 Aug
An 18-mile radius around the site remains officially uninhabitable. Today 429 nuclear reactors create electricity in 25 countries. The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, Austria, promotes nuclear power around the world and attempts to prevent diversion of fuel for use in weapons. Countries approach nuclear technology in various ways, depending on their political systems and priorities. France and Sweden, in particular, took opposite paths during the past decade. On a bright day last September, two dozen delegates from the French Parliament gathered in a meeting room at the Westin Hotel in Washington, D. C., for a briefing by U. S. energy experts. At the podium was Harold Finger, then president of the U. S. Council for Energy Awareness, a group that represents the nuclear industry. "In France you've done everything in your nuclear program that we said we wanted to do in the beginning here in the U. S.," he told them. "I envy the totality and the logic of your system." Finger's words reflected the feelings of many of his American colleagues, who consider the French nuclear system the most ON THE CUTTING EDGE Adjusting the beam of a copper- National Laboratory in Idaho vapor laser, Mark Martinez (above) renovate a "hotroom," (left) at the Lawrence Liver- where a new method of recy more laboratory in California cling metal fuel will be tested. demonstrates a new process for Simpler and potentially less separating out uraniumiso- expensive than using uranium topes for nuclear fuel. A leader in conventional ceramic form, in this technology, the U. S. metal-based fuel systems could hopes to regain its place in the make it economical to operate enriched-uranium market. breeder reactors, which create Technicians atArgonne more fuel than they consume. A Comebackfor Nuclear Power?