With the rise in oil prices
and the uncertainty of the future of oil, more and more people are considering the possibilities of building more nuclear power
plants. Nuclear power is claimed to be a clean source of energy. Obama and McCain
support the building of new nuclear power plants. A lot is being said about the benefits of nuclear power. I think it is wise to equally explore the potential harm of nuclear power. How clean is nuclear power? What are the risks of nuclear power plants? Have there been nuclear power plant accidents? These are the questions this article will explore.
How Clean is Nuclear Power?
Nuclear Power is not a one-hundred percent clean source of power. Uranium must be mined to fuel the nuclear power plants. The process of mining uranium releases radiation into the environment.
Nuclear power plants consistently release low levels of radiation into the environment.
The waste produced from nuclear power plants is radioactive. The waste remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. This waste must be disposed of in a safe manner to avoid exposing the radioactive material to the environment. This is the biggest problem with nuclear energy. We currently do not have a safe way to deal with nuclear waste disposal. There is a current proposal to dispose of nuclear power plant waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Even if this is to be done, Yucca Mountain will not be able to hold future nuclear waste. So the problem still arises, of where to safely dispose of all of the nuclear waste.
Since nuclear waste remains dangerous for approximately 240,000 years, disposal is a huge concern. There is concern over safety during transport of nuclear waste. Another concern is the safety of disposed nuclear waste. If there is an earthquake where the radioactive waste is stored, there is a possibility that the sealed containers will be compromised and leak radiation.
What are the Risks of Nuclear Power Plants?
Some scientific studies suggest that there is an increased rate of cancer in people who live near nuclear power plants due to long term exposure to low levels of radiation released from nuclear power plants.
There is concern over the possibility of terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power plant accidents can not be avoided 100 percent. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has regulations regarding safety standards and procedures that nuclear power plants must follow in the United States. According the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not enforcing the safety standards at nuclear power plants and some nuclear power plants have safety issues that are a cause for concern.
Have There Been Nuclear Power Plant Accidents?
Chalk River, Canada
Windscale Pile No. 1, England
A 200 square mile area was contaminated with radioactive waste.
Near Greifswald, East Germany
Three Mile Island
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident is the most famous and most devastating nuclear power plant accident in history. An explosion inside one of the cores caused large amounts of radiation to leak out into the environment. Approximately five-million people lived in the area that was contaminated.
Thirty-nine workers were exposed to radiation. Three of the thirty-nine workers were exposed to high levels of radiation.
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
The Children of Plutonium
World Nuclear Association