The newest nuclear power plant in the United States is 16 years old, in Tennessee. The oldest operating nuclear power plant is 43 years old, still producing power in Oyster Creek, New Jersey. Currently, 104 nuclear reactors are running in the U.S., running in 31 states and producing 19.6% of our electricity. (Data from the Nuclear Energy Institute)
I’ve been looking for a data-set to play with while teaching myself to learn to use Tableau, an awesome data vis program, so I decided to use the federal government’s data on all of the Nuclear Power plants in the US, including those under construction, shut down, or still in the planning phase. To start, check out the map above that I made to show all of the locations of of reactors in the US. They are color coded by status, so the green dots show currently operating plants. The dots are also scaled by size; smaller dots represent plants producing less power.
Last month, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, published a new report full of incriminating evidence that Iran intends to use it’s nuclear program to produce weapons. Long story short, not good news. Except, that in one of my classes, I had just been assigned a collaborative feature story, and my partner, Saideh, writes about social and political issues in the Middle East. We were trying to think a topic that would combine her political interests and my science leanings, when this Iranian nuclear expose broke. Perfect!
So, instead of keeping the long story short, we wrote a long story on the controversial history of Iran’s nuclear program. You can find the story here, (on Bestthinking.com) We (tried to) explain what we can infer from the evidence that the IAEA inspectors found, where the fine line between commercial nuclear power and weaponization lies, the history of international support and sanctions, and the political implications of the new report. I learned a lot researching this story, and I think that knowing about the history of the nuclear program really informs how we can think about the situation going forward. Understanding the science is really the key to understanding the political implications on this issue, so it was fun to combine forces on this project.