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U.S. Nuclear Subsidies Mask Real 'Costs and Risks,' Scientists Say

A report issued just days before Japan's nuclear-reactor crisis warned that U.S. government subsidies to the industry inject financial instability.

"Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past 50 years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away," stated the study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The report -- "Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies" -- argues that tax breaks and other government-engineered deals fuel a continued rise in costs as the nuclear power lobby demands evermore support from taxpayers.

"Piling new subsidies on top of existing ones will provide the industry with little incentive to rework its business model to internalize its considerable costs and risks," concluded the Cambridge, Mass.-based Union.

Alternatively, the UCS report recommended adopting market-oriented approaches to uranium mining royalties and waste-management financing, and incorporating the costs of preventing nuclear proliferation and terrorism into economic assessments of new reactors.

The Obama administration is currently proposing $54 billion in new government-backed loan guarantees to facilitate the construction of new nuclear power plants.

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