President Obama this week announced $8.3 billion in loans to build the first new nuclear power plant in the United States in more than 30 years – a pair of reactors in Burke County, Georgia.

Wow, what a turnaround.

Nuclear power, Obama said, is a "necessary step for the future," and he hopes this plant will be the first of many.

The first of many? Wasn't it only in recent years that factions associated with the current administration considered it almost un-American to even suggest such a measure?

Ever since the meltdown at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, in 1979, critics of such proposals fear that nuclear power is dangerous. They also profess concerns about the disposal of nuclear waste products.

There have been no similar incidents in the U.S. since Three Mile Island, and technology and safety factors concerning the splitting of an atom have made great strides in the past 30 years. It's about time that officials in Washington took their heads out of the sand and embraced the benefits of nuclear power – no pollution of the air, no burning of fossil fuels.

The project proposed for Georgia is expected to create thousands of construction jobs, and an estimated 800 permanent positions to help run the plant. Now that's putting stimulus money to work in a very positive way. Such a plant will be able to power millions of homes, thereby easing energy shortages and our reliance on other means to power our homes and industries.

As far as fears about living in close proximity to nuclear plants, they just don't exist.

This writer lived in the shadow of the Limerick Power Plant while it was being constructed and while it was in operation. Seeing the twin towers outside my front window never made me feel threatened. As far as I know none of my neighbors felt threatened either, even after Three Mile Island's scare.

The current administration hasn't done much to create jobs or ease our burden on energy costs.

But the installation of several nuclear power plants throughout the country would be a positive step forward.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com