To meet the environmental demands imposed by the International Maritime Organization, the commercial shipping industry’s use of predominantly marine diesel fuel will need to change drastically. Current answers to these environmental concerns include the use of biofuels, battery packs, and liquified natural gas, but these are short-term solutions that will not fully meet environmental demands in the long run. Nuclear propulsion, however, is a tried-and-true resolution. The use of nuclear energy results in virtually no environmental impact and has successfully been used by the US Navy for the past 75 years. Unfortunately, the commercial use of nuclear propulsion is stalled by the public misconception that it is dangerous. A nuclear tide is turning with the UK’s adoption of new regulations that provides the first comprehensive legal foundation that will allow nuclear propulsion to be utilized in the commercial shipping industry. The US is following the wake made by the UK as the federal government recently approved a contract for the American Bureau of Shipping to conduct in-depth research into using nuclear propulsion for the private sector. To better curb the negative public perception of nuclear energy usage and to maintain a safe use of nuclear propulsion, stringent and uniform regulations that can be applied to any shipping company with standardized safety standards need to be implemented. A well-defined model exists in Japan, and it can be easily adopted and formed to meet the needs of various international ports to efficiently monitor radioactivity. Furthermore, with strong and strict tort regulations, any potential damages or injuries resulting from an accident involving a commercial ship could help further ease public tension. All these options have already been implemented within the US Navy and should provide the backbone for future legislation. For nuclear propulsion to be a smooth transition and to be successful, forward-thinking legislation needs to be implemented instead of retroactive enaction. The environmental issues and concerns created by the continued growth of the commercial shipping industry will not change. What must change is the source of energy used and that ultimate answer lies with nuclear energy.
McReynolds, Rebecca. (2023) "Nuclear Powered International Commercial Shipping: A Note On The Greenest Solution and the Challenges of International Regulation," Environmental and Earth Law Journal (EELJ): Vol. 13 : Iss. 1 , Article 2.
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