Nuclear energy is, without doubt, one of the most prominent choices of power sources in the modern generation. Though, with the rising disputes regarding the safety of using nuclear energy, people are speculating. Nuclear energy is widely perceived as a dangerous and potentially harmful source of generating electricity, but also a convenient one. It has many known benefits, but it also comes with high risks. The question that arises here is: Should we continue use of nuclear energy as a form of generating electricity or do the cons outweigh the pros?
I believe that no matter how much nuclear energy benefits us, the hazards and risks that come along with use of it are not worth the cost. Nuclear energy should not be used. The first disadvantage I would like to talk about is terrorism. Nuclear power plants and nuclear waste could be preferred targets for terrorist attacks. If a well-coordinated terrorist group is able to damage a powerful nuclear plant in such a way that will affect a large population, the results will be cataclysmic.
For example, reminiscing back to the 9/11 incident in New York, it can be perceived that no atomic energy plant in the world will be able to withstand such an attack. Upon further research, I found that scientist and researchers believe nuclear power plants and area surrounding it are 61% more prone to terrorist attacks because of the great damage that could be caused. Such an attack will leave catastrophic effects for not only the attacked area, but for the whole world. Is the safety of humans worth risking over nuclear energy?
Another one of the greatest factors of concern in using nuclear energy for electricity is the undeniably high risks that can potentially harm people worldwide. One of the most important reasons here is the radioactive waste left. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency standards, nuclear energy waste is required to be looked after for at least 10,000 years. The reason is actually quite simple. The byproducts of Uranium, which is the main energy source for nuclear power, remains radioactive for at least 200 to 500 thousand of years.
As a result, they require a safe removal away from the society until they lose their “significant radiation values”. Though, even transporting the waste has a large risk as shipping the waste internationally increases the possibility of a terrorist interception. To add on to the risks, there are one too many unknown variables that may affect the containment vessels. If one vessel is damaged in any way, the results will be calamitous. Like I stated before, nuclear waste contains radiation values that can be potentially harmful to humans. For radiation sickness, doses of over 200 rems must be received all at once.
An average person receives 200 millirems a year, but if all generated power comes from nuclear power plants, we would receive an extra 1/5 of a millirem a year! As radiation increases, risks do the same: increase. There are three major effects of radiation: cancer, radiation sickness, and genetic mutation. For example, according to the Nuclear Pros and Cons Article on members. tripod. com, “In a study of 100,000 survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there have been 400 more cancer deaths than normal, and there is not an above average rate of genetic disease in their children. Radiation is truly one of the most significantly harmful impacts of the use of nuclear energy to produce electricity.
Another one of the most important negative aspects of using nuclear energy is the fact that it is neither renewable nor sustainable. Nuclear energy relies on Uranium as fuel, which is a scarce resource. Depending on the demand, the supply of uranium is expected to last only for the next 30 to 60 years because it is available on earth only in limited quantities. More importantly, uranium is expensive to mine, refine, and transport. Even if the cost of it is not a problem, how to actually mine it is.
As stated in one of the sources, “The majority of known Uranium around the world lies under land controlled by tribes or people who don’t support it being mined from earth. ” Therefore, Uranium is a hard to reach fuel. Since it is consumed during the operation of the nuclear power plant, it won’t be available to future generations. Therefore, it is not renewable or sustainable. Lastly, probably the greatest disadvantage to using nuclear energy is the high risk of meltdown. When there is a loss of coolant water in a fission reactor, the rods that contain the uranium fuel pellets overheat and dissolve, leaving the fuel exposed.
When the fuel rods heat to 2800°C due to the lack of a cooling source, the fuel melts its way through the containment vessels to the ground below it. As a result, a large cloud of radioactive steam and debris will be thrown into the atmosphere. This will potentially release radioactivity over a densely populated area. There are many precautions taken to avoid this, but accidents happen. In 1986, at the Chernobyl facility in the Ukraine, “a fire ripped apart the casing of the core, releasing radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere. ” The results were more than deadly.
Thirty-one people died an immediate death while an estimated 15,000 more died in the surrounding areas after a period of exposure to the radiation. The Chernobyl incident is a reminder of the serious results of nuclear power plant meltdowns. It’s most definitely not an easy task to build an ideal nuclear power plant in a short time and to rush its completion will be to try and promote disaster. There are high construction costs, high subsidies, too many unknown risks, and so many other negative attributes. For the cherry on top, no nuclear power plant will be 100% flawless.
There is always a probability of failure, even if the chances are slim. The more nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storages there are, the higher the chance of a catastrophic disaster somewhere in the world. I believe that it is not worth losing our healthy environment for an energy source that can easily be replaced with further years of research. Nuclear energy does obviously have its benefits, but the negative sides of using it outweigh whatever pros it has. All in all, nuclear energy should not be used as a source of generating electricity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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