Japan Crisis: What's next for nuclear energy in the U.S.?

[Video Link]

On PBS NewsHour, Miles O'Brien reports on new questions around the future of nuclear development and nuclear energy policy in the US, as Japan continues struggling to get the badly damaged Fukushima plant under control.

The reactors there were designed in the 1960s, just like many of the plants operating in the US. But new technology, new reactor designs, and new safety mechanisms available today might have prevented the disaster now unfolding at Fukushima, say some of the engineers interviewed for the story.

"There's nothing particularly safe about releasing a billion watts of energy in a modest-sized concrete building, so you force it to be safe by engineering." James Mahaffey, author of Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power says in the piece. "Every complication in a nuclear plant is to make it so it won't kill you."

Link to video and transcript
. You can download audio (MP3) here.

Also in last night's edition of NewsHour, this report on new radiation fears in Japan, now that radioactive iodine has been found in Tokyo tap water, the same day black smoke no-one could explain was rising anew from the Fukushima plant. Transcript here.