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KPBS Midday Edition

'Nuclear Dread' Lingers In the Minds Of Americans

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is pictured, April 16, 2019.
Claire Trageser
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is pictured, April 16, 2019.
A five-part dramatization of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl 30 years ago starts Monday on HBO. The series may enhance the American public's fear of what can go wrong with nuclear power reactors. Yet carbon-free nuclear power has been part of the U.S. energy grid since the 1970s.

A horrific explosion occurred at a Soviet Union nuclear reactor in Chernobyl in April, 1986. The blast spread radioactive material across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and as far away as Scandinavia and western Europe.

A five-part dramatization of the tragedy starts Monday on HBO. The series will no doubt enhance the considerable fear many Americans have of nuclear power reactors and what can go wrong. Yet carbon-free nuclear power has been part of the U.S. energy grid since the 1970s. Even now, 1 in every 5 kilowatt hours of electricity in this country comes from nuclear power plants.

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Ahmed Abdulla, a fellow with UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, has studied public perception of nuclear power. As part of the KPBS Climate Change Desk, he joins Midday Edition Thursday to talk about how Americans' opinions about nuclear power constrain the deployment of nuclear energy technologies.