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. >> reporter: the seeds of the decline for liquid metal reactors were planted by admiral hyman rickover, the father of the nuclear navy. >> this is the reactor, the atomic pile. there is uranium in here. >> reporter: he selected nuclear reactors cooled with water to propel the nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine. for utilities, adapting the nuclear navy technology for use on land offered the fastest path to market. water-cooled nuclear reactors quickly became the norm all over the world. >> i think that there was a victory on the merits here and the other reactor designs did have the opportunity to prove themselves and they fell short. >> reporter: physicist edwin lyman is with the union of concerned scientists. he says the promise of this new generation of nukes should be tempered by the uncertainties. >> some non-water-cooled systems have a lower risk of certain types of accident. but they have greater risks of other kinds of accidents, or they introduce other security or safety issues, so there's really no free lunch here. >> reporter: but the private sector is apparently n
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