National Geographic : 1991 Aug
of Long Island stands a silent nuclear power station with robin's-egg blue walls that holds clues to the nuclear side of this question. The Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) began building the Shoreham plant in April 1973 to supply rapidly growing Long Island. Delayed by protests from nearby communities as well as by federally mandated design changes, the plant escalated in cost from 300 million to 5.5 billion dollars before it was completed in December 1984. Yet it has never produced a single watt of commercial power. Instead Shoreham became the focus of a debate between state and national officials over which level of government should control the location of nuclear power stations. Maintaining that the nearby towns could not be safely evacuated during an emergency, Suffolk County officials and New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo invoked states' rights to keep the plant from opening, while U. S. Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins, citing national energy needs, fought to prevent Shoreham from being dismantled. Caught in the middle, LILCO shareholders cut their losses. In AMERICAN FLOP Scattered across a "lay down" yard at Hanford, Washington, parts for an unfinished nuclear plant grow more obsolete by the day. Offive reactors started in the 1970s by the Washington Public Power Supply System, only one has been completed. The utility ultimately defaulted on 2.25 billion dollars in bonds. Such financial disasters helped put an end to nuclear construc tion in the United States. A Comebackfor Nuclear Power?