The exaggerated fears that keep depriving Americans of a major source of energy claimed a major victim this week.

After fighting for 20 years against obstruction efforts that escalated costs and brought it to the brink of bankruptcy, the Long Island Lighting Co. agreed this week to give up the $5.3 billion Shoreham nuclear power plant.It marks the first time a completed U.S. atomic plant has been abandoned before it even opened.

The deal guarantees the financially troubled utility several years of rate increases and other aid in reducing its debt burden.

But the abandonment of the Shoreham plant likely won't affect the future of American nuclear power generation, which was brought to its knees long ago by lengthy lawsuits and unrealistic demands for evacuation plans in case of a catastrophe.

No new nuclear power plant has even been proposed in the U.S. for a decade. In fact, plans for more than 100 such plants around the country have been canceled since construction began on Shoreham.

Meanwhile, 224 nuclear plants are under construction or on order elsewhere around the world, where the demand for nuclear production of electricity is increasing.

Are we really to believe that the anti-nuclear power movement in the U.S. either cares more about safety or knows something that people in other countries don't? Instead, it seems more likely that the U.S. is simply more prone to hysteria and more addicted to red tape - which in the case of Shoreham mushroomed the cost of the plant more than 80 times over its original budget.

Meanwhile, with this week's decision to close it, the $5.3 billion Shoreham plant stands as costly monument to the frustrations and woes of the nuclear power industry in America.