Nuclear Power, Friend or Foe?
Its seems that the world is in a constant search of a cleaner, cheaper and safer power plants. Nuclear energy has emerged as a new alternative for power. The first nuclear power plant was built in the 1950’s and is now used all over the world. France receives 80% of their electrical energy from nuclear power plants, however; here in the U.S. we only receive 19% of our electrical energy from nuclear power plants. Whereas nuclear power comes with cons, such as safety concerns, nuclear power is more helpful than it is harmful given that nuclear power is more cost effective and better for the environment.
One of the main concerns that is brought up with nuclear power plants are safety concerns. Two notable accidents caused by nuclear plants took place in Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi. The accident in Chernobyl was caused by a poorly designed and operated reactor resulting in an explosion at the facility leaving thirty- two deaths from overexposure to radiation.
In Fukushima Daiichi an older reactor was being operated although it did not follow safety precautions in the event of a tsunami or earthquake. Not only are nuclear plants dangerous but coal power plants have also caused several deaths in the past few years from accidents, and the byproducts of coal power plants have been linked to acid rain. To improve the safety concerns of nuclear power plants we can develope a more advanced technology and design to help with this concern.
Turning the lights and fans off after leaving a room has became a habit for most people since nowadays it seems everything is too expensive, including the cost of electricity. Nuclear power plants are not cheap however, they are cheaper to operate than coal power plants. Disposing of waste from nuclear plants is more expensive than coal plants, however nuclear power plants are safer for the environment making them more cost effective. Nuclear power plants also provides many jobs, during construction approximately 1,400-1,800 jobs are created, during operation 400-700 jobs are created.
When compared to traditional power plants, nuclear power is considered “clean.” Nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury or other toxic gasses. However, coal fired power plants release massive amounts of greenhouse gasses on a daily basis, worst of all, they emit sulfur dioxide, this contributes to acid rain. Extremely large amounts of carbon dioxide is also released which contributes to climate change. The downside of nuclear power plants is waste disposal; it typically generates 20 metric tons of radioactive waste annually that must be isolated for hundreds of years. Coal powered plants produce much more waste annually, usually over 300,000 tons of ash and toxic sludge is generated every year.
In conclusion, nuclear power plants are more cost effective and completely safe under appropriate conditions, a poorly designed facility can cause many safety hazards. As scary as some of the disasters nuclear plants have the capability of causing the danger of climate change caused by other power plants that emit greenhouse gasses is more serious; thus making nuclear plants a better choice than coal.