(NEWPORT, MICH.) – To show his support for nuclear power, John McCain toured the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant here today, comparing the safety of the plant to the Navy's warships he was stationed on.
"My experience with nuclear power goes back many years to being stationed onboard the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier," he said. "I knew it was safe then, and I know it's safe now."
The plant, 30 miles outside Detroit, hasn't always had the best safety record. One of the reactors had a partial meltdown in 1966, and although there were no injuries or release of radiation, the accident allegedly led to the term "China syndrome," after an engineer said the nuclear reaction "could go all the way to China."
McCain wants to build 45 nuclear power plants by 2030, although he admits the storage of the spent fuel is a problem that still needs to be dealt with.
Barack Obama has also expressed reservations about spent nuclear fuel, and McCain sought to point out further differences between them.
"Sen. Obama has said that expanding our nuclear power plants, quote 'doesn't make sense for America,' unquote," he said. "He also says no to nuclear storage and no to reprocessing. I could not disagree more."
Obama's stance on nuclear power, however, is somewhat more nuanced. Back in December, he said "I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal...I am not a nuclear energy proponent," but today at his town hall in Youngstown, Ohio, he seemed more open to the idea.
"We'll double the amount of our energy that comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term," Obama said. "It means finding safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste."