Date of Completion

Spring 4-27-2023

Thesis Advisor(s)

Mark Healey

Honors Major



This thesis explores how the Millstone Nuclear power plant exemplifies the issues within the nuclear industry as a whole. First, the thesis looks into the history of the agencies that regulate and promote the nuclear industry and examines the creation of the current regulatory body, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The lack of oversight of nuclear power due to its technical nature, and the intentional undermining of the regulatory agencies led to the nuclear industry possessing major structural flaws that make regulation ineffective. Next, the thesis discusses why nuclear power came to New England and Connecticut, focusing on the cost benefits and energy structure of the Northeast. Then the thesis focuses specifically on the issues with safety, radiation, and costs within the Millstone power plant, and how those issues connect to broader problems with nuclear regulation. Many of the issues with Millstone are directly related to poor regulatory oversight by the NRC and how the nuclear industry operates. Finally, the thesis concludes that Millstone should be shut down due to its safety problems. Furthermore, it places the issue of shutting down Millstone within the framework of the larger industry, as Millstone’s issues mirror problems within the nuclear industry. It then explores the complex relationship between safety, progress, and decarbonization within the nuclear industry and the reason nuclear energy persists despite the major safety and cost concerns. Decarbonization efforts primarily allow for the continued use of nuclear power.