Nuclear Power, Friend or Foe?

Foe: Nuclear Power Should Not Be Used As A Power Source.

Key Components of Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power has been used in the U.S since the early 1960's and is still being used today.

This type of electricity is very useful and a great alternative to burning fossil fuels, as 100 grams of Uranium can create as much energy as 1000 pounds of coal. Nuclear Power is formed by nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of a radioactive atom splits simultaneously or by collision with another particle. When the atom splits, it creates heat, which forms steam from water in the core. The steam cycles turbines, which powers a generators, creating electricity. Scientists speculate the we are about 10 years away from Nuclear Fusion as an alternative reaction to power our plants. Nuclear Fusion occurs when you take two gases, tritium and deuterium, and heat them to extremely high temperatures. CNN speculates, "...you heat them under pressure to at least 100 million degrees Celsius. That's 180 million degrees Fahrenheit." When the two gases get hot enough, they turn in to plasma. When the two substances are mixed, they form a pulse of heat. In power plants, the burst of heat will evaporate water into steam. The steam will power turbines that supply energy to a generator. The generator creates power.

MAJOR EVENTS

Chernobyl: April 26, 1986

The Soviet built nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine was under maintenance and testing on April 26, 1986. As they were inspecting reactor 4, the monitoring system failed, which soon caused an explosion and meltdown. That morning reactor 4 had spewed over 200 times the amount of radiation as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over 7 million people were effected by this disaster, causing thyroid cancer, immune system disorders, and learning problems in children. Heart problems, lung problems, blood problems, and gastrointestinal problems were also recorded after the disaster. Oleh Andreevs says, "Chernobyl was, is and will be one of Ukraine's biggest problems."

Fukushima: March 11, 2011

Following an earthquake in Fukushima, Japan, a tsunami disabled the cooling systems in all three reactors of the Fukushima power plant. As the workers in the plant tried all back-up plans, they all failed causing melting in the reactors. This caused the meltdown which continuously released radioactivity for 4-6 days. The meltdown introduced Iodine-131, Cesium-137, Tellurium, Uranium, and Strontium to the surrounding areas of Fukushima. This caused uneatable fish and other sea creatures near Japan to appear in fisheries causing people to get sick from eating them. Although there were no direct harmful reactions from the radiation, there were 761 "diasater-related-deaths" from the accident. Also there was a huge economic loss in money from this accident, as psr.org cites, "Estimates of the total economic loss range from $250-$500 billion US (Dollars)".
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The picture above illustrates the radiation in the ocean produced by the Fukushima Meltdown.

Vital Facts

  • Nuclear power plants generate only about 20% of U.S. electricity.
  • The United States must produce more electricity to keep up with a large demand, but relying on foreign companies to build nuclear plants means fewer jobs for Americans in the energy category.
  • It can cost up to 9 billion dollars to build a nuclear power lant
  • A nuclear power plant costs the same to build as 25714 100- Kw wind turbines.
  • A one megawatt solar farm will cost around $2.5 Million U.S. dollars and require about five acres of land.

Alternate energy Sources

Although there are many advantages to nuclear energy, the disadvantages out-weight the advantages. For example, after the radioactive fuel is burned in the reactor, the fuel changes into radioactive isotopes that are highly dangerous. After the radioactive fuels have decayed to a level safe enough to store, there are put in concrete bins and stored in heavy duty facilities."The waste, sometimes called spent fuel, is dangerously radioactive, and remains so for thousands of years." says nuclearpower.com. They say it is "safe" to store, but the waste can leak through the bins and can be exposed to many people close to these concrete tanks storing the isotopes. Nuclear meltdowns are also at high risk during nuclear power creation. This can be very harmful to people and environments around the factories. These are just a few examples of the disadvantages to nuclear power.
Fortunately there are many alternatives to nuclear power such as wind, solar and hydro power. Across the U.S we could use these different types of energy. In places that are windy such as Chicago IL, Brockton MA, Lubbock TX, wind turbines could be used to create the power. In other area where water flow is common, water mills could produce hydroelectricity. In areas where the sun is very radiant such as deserts, we could put solar panels to produce solar energy. All of these types of energy can add up to produce the same amount of energy as nuclear power plants but at a cheaper and safer price. Al Gore said, "I think the cost of energy will come down when we make this transition to renewable energy." That means even U.S leaders agree that energy can be cheaper when produced naturally, therefore, we should stop using nuclear energy and start using renewable energy sources.

"Nuclear power is not a miracle key for the future." -Tarja Halonen

Citations

Anniversary Of Nuclear Disaster At Three Mile Island Marked Near The Site. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3839489/1/115_3839489/cite

Caiazza, Tom. "10 Reasons Not to Invest in Nuclear Energy." Name. Center for American Progress, 8 July 2008. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2008/07/08/4735/10-reasons-not-to-invest-in-nuclear-energy/>.

"Climate & Energy." Green America: Ten Strikes. Green America, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/climate/dirtyenergy/nuclear.cfm>.

Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Station. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/105_1402219/1/105_1402219/cite

"Japan Fires up Second Reactor since Fukushima Disaster." CNN Wire 15 Oct. 2015: n. pag. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 2 Dec. 2015. <http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&display-query=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=true&displayGroups=&sortBy=&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE|A431637594&source=Bookmark&u=kenn0032&jsid=8603f24b4b573f7b949498ab50d98ed1>.

Martini, Kim. "Main Menu." Deep Sea News. N.p., 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.

Martini, Kim. Radioactive Seawater Impact Map. Digital image. Deep Sea News. N.p., 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2015. <http://www.deepseanews.com/2013/11/true-facts-about-ocean-radiation-and-the-fukushima-disaster/>.

Anniversary Of Nuclear Disaster At Three Mile Island Marked Near The Site. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3833601/1/115_3833601/cite

Anniversary Of Nuclear Disaster At Three Mile Island Marked Near The Site. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3836020/1/115_3836020/cite

Anniversary Of Nuclear Disaster At Three Mile Island Marked Near The Site. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3839986/1/115_3839986/cit

Kyiv Region, Ukraine, April 21, 2006, the Picture Shows the Shelter Enclosing the Wrecked Chernobyl Unit 4 Reactor, the Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Occurred 20 Years Ago, April 26.. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 3 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/300_273317/1/300_273317/cite

Radiation Hazard Sign. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 4 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/132_1309627/1/132_1309627/cite

Radioactivity Symbol. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 4 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/139_2003495/1/139_2003495/cite

Wind Farm in Southern California. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 4 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/139_1903617/1/139_1903617/cite

"Nuclear Energy." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Patterson, Thom. "Amazing Promises of Nuclear Fusion: How Close Are We? - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/06/tech/pioneers-nuclear-fusion/>.

Starr, Steven. "About." Costs and Consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster. PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/costs-and-consequences-of-fukushima.html?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F>.

"Strengthening Recovery Efforts of Individuals and Communities in Ukraine." Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S. Index. Friends of Chernobyl, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

"World Nuclear Association." Fukushima Accident. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

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