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Should Production of Nuclear Power be stopped? Research Paper


Issues regarding nuclear energy production have been intensively debated since the inception of nuclear power. People who support the production of nuclear energy feel that it is a more efficient, safe and cheap method of producing power for use. However, in reality there is more to worry about production of nuclear energy through its dangers in the event of an accident.

Also, nuclear power production is expensive contrary to what the people who are in support of the technology portray. Some believe the use of nuclear power technology should be stopped because of the high costs and risks that the technology poses. Therefore, should the production of nuclear energy be stopped?

Firstly, one of the disadvantages of nuclear power production is that it is very costly to produce. Nuclear power is derived from uranium which is a natural ore. Uranium ore is currently depleting therefore this tends to raise the prices of electricity up in the world. Considering that it is non renewable, the ore will be worn out with time.

The utilities used to construct a nuclear reactor are very expensive. “The price tag for creating a large nuclear plant was between six billion and eight billion US dollars in 2010” (Beaver 399). Clearly, it is very expensive to put up a nuclear plant and maintain it too. Large tracks of land are required to build a reactor and a large proximity is required to where people live.

Secondly, nuclear power plants pose great risk on the environment. Nuclear powered plants emit thermal energy to the environment; this thermal energy contributes to the current predicament of global warming. Power plants normally dispose heated water to the rivers or other water bodies hence causing devastating effects to aquatic life and subsequently cause climatic changes.

“There are fears from the community that the disposal of hot water that might be contaminated to rivers may also pose a risk to human beings since most of their water comes from rivers and lakes” (William 161). Accidents can be catastrophic if radiation material is emitted to the environment. Although people who sympathize with nuclear power production argue that accidents are very rare, any accident that occurs causes extensive disastrous effects.

A good example of a disaster caused by nuclear power accident is the accident in Chernobyl in April 1986, the accident was the worst in history and it led to mass displacement of people and long-term deaths in the hundred of thousands according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Victims of Chernobyl disaster experienced illnesses such as cancer, stress and depression. “To date people in Ukraine cannot drink water or locally produced foods” (Miller and Spoolman 313).

Another example is Three Mile Island in March 1987 which had also emitted radioactive materials due to an accident caused by human error and component failure. Recently in Fukushima in Japan in March 2011, a massive tsunami overwhelmed the plant that caused a reactor meltdown creating a leakage of radiation and iodine. “Radiations were later found in milk and spinach thousands of kilometers away from Fukushima” (Coren, YouTube).

A few weeks later tiny amounts of iodine were discovered in countries as far as Iceland as well as the United States. These radiations pose a great public health risk and on the environment in general.

Natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis and earthquakes normally trigger the release of radioactive material from the reactors. Even with initiatives for safety by nuclear energy plants, these natural disasters are unavoidable. Despite the safety measures used by the plant, Fukushima failed to prevent emission of radioactive materials. Therefore, an increase in the number of nuclear plants increases the probability for the plants’ exposure to natural catastrophes.

Thirdly, materials used in the production of nuclear energy produce waste materials which are still radioactive and takes more than a thousand years for the waste to be decomposed. This leads to more costs in disposal of the waste materials from the plants. Wastes are normally disposed deep in the ground and this does not prevent it from being exposed to the environment due to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

Controversies revolving around how radioactive waste can be disposed in a safe way still stand out. In France recycling of radioactive material is done, but there is only a small amount of material that will be reused; in fact recycling of these materials to produce other fuel energy is more expensive.

Lastly, nuclear plants provide a platform for terrorists attack. Terrorists might easily get access to nuclear waste materials and are likely to expose them to the environment. Imagining a situation where terrorists attack a nuclear plant, it will expose the world to immense radiation levels. Despite security beef up, we can never be too sure of terrorist attacks not occurring. Radioactive wastes also provide materials for nuclear bomb creation by terrorists and some governments.

Nuclear energy has great advantages too despite its demerits. Nuclear power is not dependent on fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal which emit a lot of carbon dioxide in the environment. Nuclear power emits a lot lesser carbon dioxide gas to the environment, hence less pollution to the environment. A group of thinkers argue that nuclear power has less responsibility for global warming than fossil fuels. Statistics also show that many deaths in the United States are attributed to illnesses caused by burning coal.

Moreover, it is also argued that nuclear energy production costs are almost the same as coal, therefore it is better to use nuclear power and reduce emission of carbon dioxide and consequently the number of deaths related to illnesses caused by coal burning. Fossils fuels are expensive raw materials than uranium, hence leads to lower electricity costs for consumers.

Another advantage of nuclear power is that it produces a lot of power; this enhances efficiency in power production. Huge amounts of nuclear energy are produced using small amounts of fuel compared to other methods of energy production. In terms of reliability, nuclear power is the most efficient and reliable type of energy production.

“Currently in the world, nuclear energy caters for eleven percent of the total population’s energy needs” (Energy Resources para 3). In the United States of America twenty percent of the energy is produced from nuclear energy and currently the government is planning on putting up more plants to meet the rising needs of electricity.

Nuclear power also provides competition which drives the costs of electricity low to the consumer. The ready availability of uranium ore also reduces the cost of transporting fuel from distant places where they are found. With depletion of fossil fuels, nuclear energy will be the most appropriate method of avoiding shortages in the future-“due to nuclear energy reliability” (Energy Resources para 3).

Currently nuclear reactors are built with precision and are computerized; computerization has enhanced fewer accidents due to human error and component failure. Supporters of nuclear energy production argue that today’s technology guarantees safety through computers that automatically shuts down the reactor in cases of faults.

Therefore, the production of nuclear power should be stopped. In spite of nuclear energy being very attractive, it has more disadvantages than advantages therefore there is more reasons to abolish the nuclear energy production.

The disasters evident from the nuclear reactors have led to increased levels of radiation and even deaths-in Germany studies have shown that many people living near nuclear power plants are likely to be suffering from leukemia. Nuclear power might be seen as a solution for electricity shortage today and in the future by some people but their effects are more disastrous and could lead to human extinction in our planet.

The claims of recycling nuclear wastes to new fuel elements accounts for a very small percentage energy capability which is not worth justifying the use of nuclear energy. The threat of terrorist attacks can be avoided through abolishing nuclear related practices, meaning there would be less probability of nuclear attacks, a few countries which are not politically stable bear great risk of terrorists acquiring weapons grade plutonium.

With the existence of other energy options which are safer such as hydro electric energy, solar energy and wind energy. These energies are safe and environmental friendly than nuclear energy. Harnessing these energies can supplement the use of nuclear energy considering that they are cheap and renewable.

Annotated Bibliography

Miller, Tyler G., and Scott Spoolman. Living in the environment: Principles, connections, and solutions. Canada: Cengage learning, 2011. Print.

The book discusses about the history of nuclear power plants accidents such as the Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island accident. It describes the causes of the accident and how human error and component failure were the major reasons for the accident. It also gives evidence on the health implications of the radiations victims in the USSR. It also gives the statistics on the deaths and displacement of victims and long-term effects of nuclear emissions.

William, Thomas K. Politics, technology, and the environment: technology assessment and nuclear. New York: Arno Press Inc., 1979. Print.

In William’s book, he argues on the effects of radiation on the environment as a result of nuclear plants. He discusses on issues of thermal release by nuclear plants through rivers and lakes and how it affects the communities using the water. He also argues on the effect of emissions to the environment in general and the concerns of the communities living around nuclear power plants

Beaver, William. “The failed promise of nuclear power.” Independent Review 15.3 ;( 2011): 399-441.

In this journal article, the author discusses issues regarding the construction of the reactor and how it is expensive to put up a nuclear power plant. He further gives an estimate of the amount of money required to put up a plant by the year 2010. He also discusses on the difficulties experienced in putting up a nuclear power plant. He also talks about the failure by the government to meet its vision of the nuclear technology.

Energy Resources. Nuclear power. 26 August, 2011. Web.

In this website, there is a comparison of the different energy resources. It also provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods of power production. It further talks about the non renewable nature of Uranium and the facts about nuclear power production.

Coren, Anna. “Japan-radiation found in food as workers scramble to curb nuclear crisis.” CNN. YouTube. Web.14th November, 2011.

In the video, a Tsunami that caused a reactor meltdown creating a leakage of radiation and iodine in Japan occurred due to an earthquake. Radiations were later found in milk and spinach thousands of kilometers away from Fukushima.

Works Cited

Beaver, William. “The failed promise of nuclear power.” Independent Review 15.3 (2011): 399-441.

Coren, Anna. “Japan-radiation found in food as workers scramble to curb nuclear crisis.” CNN. YouTube. Web.14th November, 2011.

Energy Resources. Nuclear power. 26 August, 2011. Web.

Miller, Tyler G., and Scott Spoolman. Living in the environment: Principles, connections, and solutions. Canada: Cengage learning, 2011. Print.

William, Thomas K. Politics, technology, and the environment: technology assessment and nuclear. New York, NY: Arno Press Inc., 1979. Print.

Beaver, William. “The failed promise of nuclear power.” Independent Review 15.3; (2011): 399-441.

Quotes

“Farrow stated that the White House announced plans to triple the amount currently allocated for loan guarantees available to utilities for construction of new reactors. Indeed, loan guarantees are seen as crucial, considering that the current price tag for a large nuclear plant is estimated to be between $6 billion and $8 billion” (Beaver 399).

“The 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, which resulted in a partial meltdown of the reactor’s core, certainly comes to mind. In addition, the government’s failure to open a long-promised nuclear waste repository in Nevada for which the utilities have contributed billions of dollars certainly did nothing to restore interest in the technology” (Beaver 400).

Coren, Anna. “Japan-radiation found in food as workers scramble to curb nuclear crisis.” CNN. YouTube. Web.14th November, 2011.

Quotes

“A Tsunami caused a reactor meltdown creating a leakage of radiation and iodine in Japan occurred due to an earthquake” (Coren YouTube).

“Radiations were later found in milk and spinach thousands of kilometers away from Fukushima” (Coren YouTube).

Energy Resources. Nuclear power. 26 August, 2011. Web.

Quotes

With reactors in the UK, the computers will shut the reactor down automatically if things get out of hand (unless engineers intervene within a set time). At Chernobyl, in Ukraine, they did not have such a sophisticated system, indeed they over-rode the automatic systems they did have.

When they got it wrong, the reactor overheated, melted and the excessive pressure blew out the containment system before they could stop it. Then, with the coolant gone, there was a serious fire. Many people lost their lives trying to sort out the mess. A quick web search will tell you more about this, including companies who operate tours of the site (Energy Resources para 3).

“Although not much waste is produced, it is very, very dangerous. It must be sealed up and buried for many thousands of years to allow the radioactivity to die away. For all that time it must be kept safe from earthquakes, flooding, terrorists and everything else. This is difficult” (Energy Resources para 3).

William, Thomas K. Politics, technology, and the environment: technology assessment and nuclear. New York, NY: Arno Press Inc., 1979. Print.

Quotes

“Routine discharge of radiation discharge from nuclear reactors has become an issue of considerable concern and debate. The possibility that, with the growing proliferation of such reactors, radiation will have a substantial, and substantially adverse, impacts on human health of present and future generations” (William 161).

“Since many, if not most of these lakes and streams act as a source of community drinking water; many have become aroused by the possibility of radioactive contamination” (William 161).

Miller, Tyler G., and Scott Spoolman. Living in the environment: Principles, connections, and solutions. Canada: Cengage learning, 2011. Print.

Quotes

“The Chernobyl in April 1986, the accident was the worst in history and it led to mass displacement of people and long-term deaths in the hundreds of thousands according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Victims of Chernobyl disaster experienced illnesses such as cancer, stress, and depression” (Miller and Spoolman 313).

“In Ukraine water or locally produced foods are not consumed because they are contaminated due to previous radiations in Chernobyl in 1986” (Miller and Spoolman 313).

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