The nuclear power reactor units provide the United States with about 20% of its electricity
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC
maintains a threat assessment branch
, which assesses security threats to nuclear facilities throughout the country.
Reactors are massive structures, typically constructed with two to five feet of steel-reinforced concrete. The containments have an interior steel lining, and redundant safety equipment to add further protection.
Sixty-six reactor units are "pressurized water reactors" and 34 are "boiling water reactors."
These two types of reactors the only reactors that are in commercial operation in the United States.
There are 31 licensed and operating research reactors
in the United States. The majority are located at universities.
Since September 11, additional security measures have been put in place at nuclear facilities
that includes increased patrols, augmented security forces and weapons, additional security posts, heightened coordination with law enforcement and military authorities and additional limitations on access to the site of personnel in vehicles.
May 26, 1958 - As a part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program, the first commercial nuclear power plant opens as the Shippingport Atomic Power Station.
March 28, 1979 -
The Three Mile Island nuclear plant built near Middleton, Pennsylvania goes into meltdown due to a faulty pressure valve in the Unit 2 reactor, design-related problems, and human error. The Three Mile Island accident remains the most serious nuclear power incident in the United States.
1989 - The Shippingport Atomic Power Station becomes the first successfully decommissioned nuclear power plant in the country.
January 1990 - After five years, 99% of the damaged fuel from Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island has been removed. The damage was so severe that the unit remains unusable and in storage.
August 29, 2011 - North Anna Power Station near Louisa, Virginia is damaged during the 5.8 earthquake that hits northeastern U.S. The epicenter of quake is less than 20 miles from power station. No radiation leaks are detected.
February 9, 2012 - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves plans to build two new nuclear reactors near Augusta, Georgia. It is the first approval of new reactors since 1978.
Region 1 - oversees 25 reactor units in seven states, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Region 2 - oversees 32 reactor units in seven states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Region 3 - oversees 23 reactor units in six states, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Region 4 - oversees 19 reactor units in 10 states Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Washington.