An artist’s 1972 drawing of an offshore nuclear power plant
This ill-advised scheme would have put gigantic barges just off the Atlantic coast? Where would it have started? New Jersey, of course
By Matt Novak
February 26, 2013
A new nuclear power plant hasn’t been built in the U.S. in over 30 years. But in the 1970s nuclear power was still in many ways a low-emissions dream of the future.
In 1975, nuclear power accounted for about 4 percent of the electrical energy generated in the United States. But some people at that time were predicting that by the dawn of the 21st century, nuclear power might supply over 50 percent of electrical energy needed in this country. (Nuclear power currently produces 19.2 percent of electricity in the U.S.)
In the early 1970s, plans were set into motion which would have seen eight to ten offshore nuclear power plants built by 1999. Each power plant was envisioned to produce 1,150 megawatts of electricity, enough for a city of about 600,000 at the time.
The plan was devised by Offshore Power Systems (OPS), a partnership between Tenneco and Westinghouse. In
1972, a New Jersey utility company contracted with OPS to build an offshore nuclear power plant in Jacksonville, Florida, and tow it to New Jersey. The $1.1 billion contract to build the plant was even signed at sea — aboard a yacht just off the New Jersey coast. The power plants would have been gigantic barges anchored a few miles off the American coastline, starting with Brigantine, New Jersey.
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