Nukes in my backyard

They’re lean, clean, power-generating machines. But would a town really bury a mini nuclear reactor under its streets?

By Brian Dumaine, assistant managing editor

Long left for dead, the U.S. nuclear power industry appears poised for a comeback.

President Barack Obama earlier this year announced an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help the Georgia utility Southern Co. build two large reactors, and he wants to triple the amount of federal loan guarantees for plant construction to $54 billion. Obama hopes a slew of new plants will create jobs and lots of affordable, clean electricity.

The problem: Even with the help of loan guarantees, full-scale nuclear power plants remain insanely expensive to build (conventional plants start at $5 billion, industry executives say).

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