Renewed interest in nuclear energy has been circulating, but the industry and related exchange traded fund (ETF) may first have to deal with the messy situation surrounding its own revitalization.

Nuclear industry leaders are confident in nuclear energy’s ability to provide a clean source of electrical energy that would shift the United States’ reliance on coal, scribes Jim Doyle for The San Francisco Chronicle. Current nuclear reactors only supply 20% of U.S. electrical energy, and advocates state that the energy also provides three-quarters of the nation’s carbon-free electricity. There are at least 31 new applications to build nuclear reactors in the United States.

Other nations, most notably France, Britain and Japan, are already heavily reliant on nuclear power and more countries, such as China, are rapidly building nuclear reactors. The United States is seemingly the only advanced nation lagging behind in this industry.

A major hurdle the United States faces is the answer to a permanent disposal plan for nuclear waste, which is currently stored on site at reactor plants. It is estimated that it would cost a minimum of $100 billion to dispose of waste from U.S. reactors and dismantle weapons at the site. But a broad scientific consensus says that nuclear waste can be managed by a combination of recycling and deep geologic disposals.

But President Barack Obama has fulfilled a campaign promise in proposing to cut the budget for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project, which is the closest thing the United States has to a waste disposal solution, reports Matthew L. Wald for The New York Times. Billions have already been spent on the development of the site and now it would seem it was wasted in vain.

Nuclear power opponents argue that the failure to find a permanent repository for the waste is reason enough to extinguish the nuclear reactors already in place and to stop the further construction of more.

  • Market Vectors Nuclear Energy ETF (NLR): down 21.2% in the last month; down 8.4% in the last three months

ETF NLR performance

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