Future of nuclear power discussed in Columbia

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Nuclear power has had its fair share of headlines recently; from the crisis in Japan to SCE&G building more units at its plant in Jenkinsville.

Tuesday, energy experts sat down with local and state leaders to talk about South Carolina's future in nuclear technology.

One group presented ideas for creating SMR's, a network of small reactors built underground to replace large traditional nuclear plants.

"The difference here with the SMR's, the construction period is only two years, so once permitting happens, licensing happens. Within two years you can start generating return on your investment," says Pierre Oneid, President of SMR LLC.

"We're talking about the possibility of literally tens of billions of dollars of economic investment," Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin adds. "We're talking about thousands of jobs, so this is a significant opportunity."

The proposed reactors are still in the design phase, but opponents of nuclear power raise concerns. They wonder how officials would ship the spent fuel from the reactors and what this technology would cost the public.