Nuclear Power Plants in the US

Nuclear Power Plants in the US

by James Walton

If you’re a millennial or older, you may remember George W. Bush’s first state of the union address. As the world looked on in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, President Bush highlighted the importance of diversifying energy, including safe nuclear power.

Bush was far from the first president to promote nuclear energy, however. Dwight D. Eisenhower, for example, made the case in his famous 1953 “Atoms for Peace” speech that “peaceful power from atomic energy” could be used to generate electricity, improve agriculture, and spur other benevolent pursuits.

Over half a century later, a number of Eisenhower’s proposals have been realized, to one extent or another.

In some states, for instance, nuclear power plants account for as much as one third of the total power generation of electricity. Indeed, there are currently ninety-two nuclear reactors that are generating electricity in fifty-four nuclear power plants in the US.

In this new nuclear era, over half the states in the nation are using nuclear power to keep the lights on and meet their energy needs–and for good reason. As we will discuss later, there are a lot of merits to this carbon-free power generation technology, and yet public perception surrounding nuclear energy remains less than enthusiastic. It is little wonder, then, that so many nuclear power plants have been decommissioned in the last three years.

With that said, nuclear power plants do pose serious risks. After all, prevailing winds can take the radioactive particles from a nuclear meltdown and whisk them some 100 miles away!

Thankfully, these kinds of disasters are rare. It remains prudent, however, to be prepared, should something like this occur near you.

The first step is to find out if you live near a nuclear power plant. To this end, we have created a detailed map for you to investigate how close the nearest nuclear power plant is.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    The Importance of Nuclear Energy in the US

  • 02

    Where are the Nuclear Power Plants Near Me

  • 03

    Top 5 Threats Living Near a Nuclear Power Plant in the US

  • 04

    Nuclear Power Plants in Texas

  • 05

    Nuclear Power Plants in New York

  • 06

    Nuclear Power Plants in California

  • 07

    Nuclear Power Plants in Florida

  • 08

    Nuclear Power Plants in Pennsylvania

  • 09

    More on the Three Mile Island Accident

  • 10

    Where is Nuclear Waste Stored from Nuclear Power Plants in the US

  • 11

    How to Prepare for a Nuclear Meltdown

  • 12


  • 13

    Frequently Asked Questions

The Importance of Nuclear Energy in the US

Nuclear energy holds significant importance as a power source in the United States for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a low-carbon energy option that helps mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. Nuclear power plants produce electricity without burning fossil fuels, which reduces the release of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Nuclear power also provides a reliable and consistent energy supply. Unlike renewable sources such as wind and solar, nuclear plants can operate continuously, providing a stable baseload of electricity. This is particularly crucial for meeting the country's energy demands, ensuring grid stability, and avoiding blackouts.

By reducing dependence on imported fuels, nuclear power is great for national security. The United States relies heavily on foreign oil, gas, and coal, which can be subject to price volatility and geopolitical tensions. By diversifying the energy mix with nuclear power, the nation can reduce its vulnerability to these factors and enhance energy independence.

Notably, these power plants employ tens of thousands of Americans with high-paying jobs. The construction, operation, and maintenance of nuclear facilities require skilled workers across various sectors, boosting local economies and providing stability.

Nuclear energy also contributes to technological innovation and scientific advancements. Research and development in the nuclear field have led to improvements in reactor designs, waste management techniques, and safety protocols. These advancements not only benefit the nuclear industry but also have applications in medicine, space exploration, and other scientific disciplines.

In this way, nuclear power generation plays a crucial role in the United States by providing a low-carbon, reliable, and domestically sourced power supply, while also driving economic growth and encouraging technological progress.

Where are the Nuclear Power Plants Near Me

Nuclear power plant map

We've taken the liberty of documenting all known nuclear power plants within the US for your convenience. Our map lists the location by city and state as well as by power plant type.

You can find the full interactive map here.

Top 5 Threats Living Near a Nuclear Power Plant in the US

Nuclear power generation is a relatively safe and proven method for generating electricity.

Nevertheless, things can go wrong from time to time–to say nothing of the other risks associated with nuclear power plants, which we will enumerate shortly.


The risk of a severe accident, although extremely low, exists–that much cannot be denied. In the event of a major malfunction or natural disaster, there is a possibility of radioactive material being released into the environment, which could have health and environmental impacts.

Case in point: On March 28th, 1979, near Middletown, Pennsylvania, a serious accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. In the main, the accident was the outcome of three important errors. These were:

  • Power plant design

  • Operator error

  • Mechanical malfunctions

Put simply, the accident occurred when a valve in the cooling system of the nuclear reactor remained open, and the subsequent loss of cooling led to a rise in the temperature of the reactor core.

Unfortunately, operators in the control room failed to flag the error. This is because the instrumentation and control systems provided them with confusing and ambiguous information, leading to a colossal–though thankfully not deadly–misinterpretation of the situation at hand.

Ultimately, the overheating of fuel rods led to a partial meltdown, releasing some radioactive gasses into the environment.

Radiation Exposure

While nuclear power plants are built to contain radiation, there is a slight chance of radiation leaks during normal operations. Naturally, prolonged exposure to radiation can increase the risk of certain health issues, including cancer.

On this basis, it’s best to take adequate precautions, like investing in detection equipment. By alerting you to dangerous levels of radiation, the right gadgets can go a long way in ensuring your safety.

Take MIRA Safety’s Geiger 2 Portable Dosimeter, for instance. As one of the most compact and effective Geiger counters on the market, it provides a personalized, rechargeable solution to concerns about nuclear and industrial accidents in the area.

A little larger than a pen, the Geiger 2 can be stowed in a pocket, purse, or backpack. Plus, it’s easy enough for a child to read–taking the guesswork out of your health and safety.

Waste Storage

What many laymen don’t realize about nuclear power plants is that they generate radioactive waste that needs to be stored safely for long periods. If mishandled or stored improperly, radioactive waste can pose health and environmental risks. However, strict regulations and protocols are in place to ensure the safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste.

One thing that we can never regulate, however, is Mother Nature. So when natural disasters occur, and storage vessels are compromised, contamination can occur.

In this regard, spent fuel is another concern. If there is a breach in the storage systems due to a natural disaster, and the multiple layers of containment and safety measures are thwarted, radioactive materials can be released into the air.

Security Risks

Unsurprisingly, nuclear power plants are potential targets for security threats, including terrorism or sabotage. Though rigorous security measures are in place to protect these facilities, the possibility of intentional attacks can never be completely eliminated.

These sites are also targets of warfare. Most recently, this was seen in Ukraine, where Russia has targeted and captured nuclear power plants.

Public Perception

Even if the risks are extremely low, living near a nuclear power plant can cause concerns and anxiety among some people due to fear of accidents or radiation exposure.

This perception, in turn, can impact property values and the overall wellbeing of the community.

Nuclear Power Plants in Texas

Texas-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf (

In the Lone Star State, 3 million homes are powered by two nuclear power plants. While nuclear power makes up 8.3 % of the state's total energy output, these two plants account for over 25% of Texas’ carbon-free electricity.

The licenses on these power plants will begin to expire in 2030. In all likelihood, the future of energy production in the state of Texas will include nuclear power.

Texas’ Nuclear Power Plants

South Texas Nuclear Generating Station (STP): Located near Bay City, Texas, the STP is a dual-unit nuclear power plant with two pressurized water reactors.

Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant: Situated near Glen Rose, Texas, the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant is a dual-unit facility with two pressurized water reactors.

These nuclear power plants account for 2,200 reliable, well-paying jobs for Texans.

Nuclear Power Plants in New York

New-York-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf (

New York State’s five nuclear power plants are responsible for just under a quarter of the state’s electricity production. In light of the Empire State’s prodigious size, as well as the copious energy demands of New York City, this figure is nothing to sneeze at.

New York’s Nuclear Power Plants

FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant: Located in Scriba, New York, the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant has a single boiling water reactor and has a capacity of approximately 838 MW.

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant: Situated in Ontario, New York, the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is the state's smallest nuclear power plant. It has a single pressurized water reactor, which has a capacity of around 580 MW.

Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station: Located in Scriba, New York, the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station consists of two nuclear power reactors, Units 1 and 2. Both units have a combined capacity of approximately 1,935 MW.

Nuclear power in New York makes up nearly half of the state’s carbon-free electricity. It is responsible for powering 4.3 million homes. To man these power plants requires an extensive workforce, which amounts to 2,725 well-compensated, high-value jobs for the people of New York.

Nuclear Power Plants in California

California-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf (

Accounting for 17.9% of the state's total share of carbon-free electricity, California’s two nuclear power reactors (at one plant) are responsible for powering 2.4 million homes in the Golden State.

California’s Nuclear Power Plant

Diablo Canyon Power Plant: Located near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant is the only active nuclear power plant in California. It has two pressurized water reactors that have been in operation since the mid-1980s. Each reactor has a capacity of around 1,100 megawatts, for a combined capacity of approximately 2,200 MW.

This power plant is responsible for 1,400 well-remunerated jobs. California decommissioned two nuclear power plants, one in 2012 and one in 2013. Before 2030, the two remaining nuclear power plants will require a license review.

Nuclear Power Plants in Florida

Florida-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf (

Florida’s nuclear power is generated at two major plants, which account for 11.5% of the state’s total energy output. A whopping 75% of the state’s carbon-free electricity comes from nuclear power. This translates to 2 million Floridian homes that are powered by nuclear facilities.

Florida’s Nuclear Power Plants

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station: Located near Homestead, Florida, the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station has two operational nuclear reactors. Unit 3, a pressurized water reactor, began commercial operation in 1972, while Unit 4, also a PWR, started in 1973. Both units have a combined capacity of approximately 1,800 megawatts.

St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant: Situated on Hutchinson Island, the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant operates two pressurized water reactors, Units 1 and 2. Unit 1 started commercial operation in 1976, while Unit 2 began in 1983. Each unit has a capacity of around 900 MW, resulting in a combined capacity of approximately 1,800 MW.

To keep the Sunshine State’s two nuclear power stations running, 1,400 sought-after roles with generous compensation are afforded to Florida residents.

Nuclear Power Plants in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf (

Though Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states in the Union, new power methods–that is, nuclear power–play a huge role in electricity production. As a matter of fact, nearly a third of the electricity generated in the state of Pennsylvania is supplied by nuclear power plants. This powers 7.5 million homes in the Keystone State and makes up 93% of their carbon-free electricity generation.

Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Power Plants

Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station: Located in Shippingport, Beaver County, the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station consists of two pressurized water reactors known as Unit 1 and Unit 2. Unit 1 has a capacity of approximately 892 MW and began operations in 1976, while Unit 2 has a capacity of about 878 MW and started operations in 1987.

Limerick Generating Station: Situated near Pottstown, Montgomery County, the Limerick Generating Station consists of two General Electric boiling water reactors called Unit 1 and Unit 2. Unit 1 has a capacity of around 1,130 MW and began operations in 1985, while Unit 2 has a capacity of approximately 1,134 MW and started operations in 1990. The station is owned and operated by Exelon Generation Company.

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station: The Susquehanna plant is a nuclear power facility owned jointly by Talen Energy and Exelon Corporation. It consists of two pressurized water reactors, Unit 1 and Unit 2. Combined, these have an output of 2,482 MW.

Unsurprisingly, producing 30.1% of a highly populated state’s electricity requires a large workforce. Nuclear power plants in PA have created 4,500 lucrative employment opportunities for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

More on the Three Mile Island Accident

Three Mile Island

The Three Mile Island incident, which occurred on March 28, 1979, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, represents one of the most significant nuclear accidents in history. The event unfolded at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2), a pressurized water reactor plant. As previously mentioned, it resulted in a partial nuclear meltdown.

The mechanical failure of the cooling system is what created this dangerous situation. With the valve stuck in place, all of the water from the cooling system drained out, and the fuel rods continued to heat and heat until they began to melt. This released radioactive material into the air.

Hazmat suit-clad cleanup crew workers at Three Mile Island

The Three Mile Island cleanup crews had to wear the proper gear, including gas masks and hazmat suits, to survive the environment. Naturally, technology has come a long way since then.

If an equivalent disaster happened today, cleanup crews would be in safe hands with the MIRA Safety CM-6M gas mask with the NBC SOF-77 filter. When these two pieces of CBRN equipment are combined, they result in cutting-edge protection from dangerous radioactive particles in the air.

The MIRA Safety CM-6M gas mask

The SOF-77 is designed to filter all known CBRN agents, along with radioactive iodine. Meawnwhile, our iconic CM-6M is being used in the field as we speak. Made from bromobutyl rubber, this mask is designed to protect your skin from CBRN agents. Note that it also features a full panoramic visor, which would have been perfect for Three Mile Island cleanup teams.

Lessons from the Three Mile Island Nuclear Incident

The Three Mile Island incident raised concerns about the safety and potential hazards of nuclear power. While the primary containment structure successfully prevented the release of significant amounts of radiation, a small number of radioactive gasses and iodine were released into the environment.

And although the released amounts were not considered to be harmful to public health, the incident caused significant panic and widespread public fear. While this was a terrifying outcome, it also became a turning point for nuclear energy, as we will go on to delineate.

In order to restore the public’s trust in nuclear power, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) made some serious improvements in how nuclear power plants were constructed, inspected, and reinforced. Improvements were also made in onsite communications.

Regulatory Improvements

The Three Mile Island incident prompted a thorough examination of nuclear safety standards and regulations. Accordingly, the NRC reviewed and enhanced its protocols for reactor design, construction, and operation. Stricter safety measures were subsequently implemented, including improved training for plant personnel, better instrumentation, and enhanced emergency response plans.

Safety Upgrades

Following the incident, nuclear power plants around the world implemented significant safety upgrades. These included modifications to plant designs to prevent accidents, such as improved cooling systems, redundant safety systems, and better containment structures. The industry also focused on enhancing backup power supplies and improving communication systems to ensure timely and effective response in case of emergencies.

Human Factors and Communication

Three Mile Island underscored the vital human element in nuclear safety, revealing the significance of effective communication between plant operators, emergency responders, and the public. Consequently, measures were implemented to improve operator training and enhance communication protocols during emergencies.

Public Perception and Oversight

The accident at Three Mile Island significantly impacted public perception of nuclear power. More specifically, it shone a light on the need for transparency, public involvement, and independent oversight in the nuclear industry. As a result, greater emphasis was placed on community engagement, public hearings, and open dialogue to address concerns and build trust.

Where is Nuclear Waste Stored from Nuclear Power Plants in the US

Man in Hazmat suit with barrel of waste

You may be surprised to learn that the United States has not, to date, decided on a permanent storage location for nuclear waste–though the government does have some ideas about the matter. For example, they have been researching the use of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository as a possible solution for long term storage of nuclear waste, a proposal that dates back to 1987.

Recent administrations have taken different stances on Yucca Mountain as a viable location for nuclear waste. The Obama administration, for its part, reviewed other sites as possibilities, while Trump’s leadership considered both Yucca and other locations for the permanent site of nuclear waste.

Most recently, the Biden administration made it clear in May 2021 that Yucca Mountain was not a viable option for nuclear waste, and other options would be explored in the coming months. There have been no updates since.

What is Nuclear Waste?

Field of nuclear waste barrels, against backdrop of factory with smokestacks and Venturi cooling towers

Though nuclear power plants produce relatively low amounts of waste compared to other forms of energy production, the waste generated by these facilities is highly radioactive. And, needless to say, it requires very careful handling and disposal.

Here, it’s important to note that experts are continuously making headway in developing more efficient and eco-friendly methods of nuclear energy production.

As things currently stand, however, nuclear power has two types of waste that require management.

Spent Nuclear Fuel

After being used in a nuclear reactor, the fuel assemblies become "spent" and contain a mixture of both radioactive and non-radioactive materials. The fuel assemblies are collections of fuel rods, assembled for easy handling and to work efficiently inside the reactor.

Spent nuclear fuel is initially stored in pools of water located on-site at the nuclear power plant. These storage pools provide cooling and shielding for the highly radioactive fuel assemblies. Over time, some of the spent fuel can be transferred to dry storage systems. Dry cask storage involves placing the fuel assemblies in robust, sealed containers made of materials such as steel and concrete.

Low-Level Radioactive Waste

Apart from spent nuclear fuel, nuclear power plants also generate low-level radioactive waste. This waste includes items such as protective clothing, tools, filters, and reactor components that have been exposed to radioactivity.

Where is Nuclear Waste Currently Stored?

The casks that contain the low-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel are both stored on-site at nuclear power plants around the country. Nuclear waste is stored in specialized facilities that have onsite surveillance and security.

Until the United States decides on a place to store its nuclear waste in the long term, this will be the process for American nuclear power plants. 

How to Prepare for a Nuclear Meltdown

TMI-2 Core End-State Configuration diagram

A nuclear meltdown is the most feared disaster that can originate from a nuclear power plant. Remember: the situation at Three Mile Island was only a partial meltdown, and yet it was still necessary to mobilize an evacuation of 150,000 people.

Given this context, a full-scale meltdown would be leaps and bounds worse–a nuclear catastrophe.

If you live near a nuclear power plant in the US, then you need to be prepared to shelter-in-place with the right CBRN gear or evacuate, should the situation call for that.

What Really Happens During a Nuclear Meltdown

A nuclear meltdown constitutes a succession of failures in a nuclear reactor. Though mitigation strategies have been developed to prevent (as best we can) these instances from occurring, it is sometimes the case that unforeseen events, like the earthquake near Fukushima, can nevertheless cause a dangerous meltdown.

1. Loss of Cooling

The cooling system of the reactor, which is responsible for removing excess heat generated by the nuclear fuel, fails or becomes compromised. This can be due to equipment failures, loss of power, or other external factors.

As previously mentioned, it was the stuck valve of the cooling system at Three Mile Island that caused the partial meltdown.

2. Fuel Overheating

Without proper cooling, the fuel rods containing nuclear fuel (usually uranium or plutonium) heat up rapidly. The intense heat causes the fuel pellets to start melting, releasing highly radioactive materials.

3. Formation of Corium

As the fuel rods melt, a mixture of molten fuel, metal components, and reactor coolant known as "corium" is formed. Corium has a high temperature and can be highly corrosive. This substance is responsible for serious damage to the reactor.

4. Damage to Reactor Structure

The extreme heat generated during a meltdown can damage or breach the reactor vessel and containment structure. This can lead to the release of radioactive materials into the air.

5. Radioactive Releases

If containment measures fail, radioactive materials, including radioactive gasses and particles, can be released into the atmosphere, water, or soil. These releases pose significant risks to human health and the environment.

6. Emergency Response

During a nuclear meltdown, emergency response measures are implemented. These may include activating emergency cooling systems, containment strategies, and evacuation or shelter-in-place orders for nearby populations.

Preparing for a Nuclear Meltdown

If you live near a nuclear power plant, it’s important to be prepared for a potential meltdown, especially if you live near a nuclear facility.

Using our map, you can check your proximity to the nearest nuclear power plant and then examine the prevailing winds in your area. This should help you to evaluate your level of risk for a potential meltdown.

Here are some things to consider when preparing for such a scenario:

Stay Informed: Stay updated on emergency plans, evacuation routes, and procedures provided by the plant operators and local authorities. Alongside this, keep track of emergency alert systems, radio stations, or other communication channels that provide official information during an emergency.

Emergency Response Plans: Create and rehearse emergency response plans. There will also be plans established by the nuclear power plant and the community. Be sure to gain a firm grasp on the different emergency levels or classifications, such as shelter-in-place, evacuation, or relocation instructions.

Emergency Supplies: Keep an emergency supply kit that includes essentials like water, non-perishable food, medication, flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, and a first aid kit. This kit should be easily accessible and periodically checked and refreshed.

Shelter-in-Place: In certain situations, authorities may recommend sheltering-in-place as a protective measure. This means staying indoors and sealing off your home to minimize exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Prepare a designated shelter area in your home with CBRN protective gear, emergency supplies, and a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio.

Evacuation Plans: Be familiar with evacuation routes and have a plan in place for how you and your family would evacuate if necessary. Identify multiple evacuation destinations, such as the homes of family or friends in different areas, and plan for transportation options.

Create personal indicators for evacuation. Early cautious evacuation is always better than getting stuck in a large-scale evacuation effort.

Emergency Contacts: Ensure that you have a list of important contacts readily available, including local emergency services, the nuclear power plant's emergency hotline, and family members or friends outside the immediate area.

Follow Instructions: During an emergency, listen to official instructions from local authorities and follow them promptly. Cooperate with emergency personnel and follow evacuation orders if given.


In spite of the benefits of the “peaceful power from atomic energy,” as Eisenhower termed it, America is still on the fence about its future. As such, many nuclear power plants have been shut down in recent years due to regulatory challenges, economic viability, necessary improvements, and competition from other energy sources.

Notably, we have yet to develop a carbon-free energy source like nuclear power. If governments around the world are truly concerned about carbon emissions, it would seem that nuclear power has to be a part of the conversation.

Even so, the future of nuclear power in the US faces many challenges. These include the massive upfront costs in building new nuclear power plants, the lack of a solution regarding permanent waste storage, long construction times, and–of course–the public’s perceptions of nuclear energy and its potential risks.

Amid all this uncertainty, it is best to prepare for any eventuality, including a nuclear meltdown or attack.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the largest nuclear power plant in the US?
What is the safety record of nuclear power plants in the US?
What is the current status of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant?