Italy signals turnaround on nuclear power

Italy’s newly elected government said Thursday that within five years it planned to resume building nuclear plants, a type of energy that the country dropped 20 years ago after a referendum resoundingly condemned nuclear power.

“By the end of this legislature we will put down the foundation stone for the construction in our country of a group of new generation nuclear plants,” said Claudio Scajola, Minister of Economic Development. “An action plan to go back to nuclear power cannot be delayed anymore.”

The sea change for Italy is a sign of the times, reflecting growing concern in many European countries over the skyrocketing price of oil, energy security, and the warming effects of carbon emissions from fossil fuels. All have combined to make this once-scorned form of energy far more palatable.

“Italy has had the most dramatic, the most public turnaround, but the sentiments against nuclear are reversing very quickly all across Europe – Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and more,” said Ian Hore-Lacey, spokesman for the World Nuclear Association, an industry group based in London.

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