Nuclear Energy, Foe?

By: Jayden Stabler and Kelli Hubinger

What is Nuclear Power?

Nuclear power is what occurs when a reaction takes place in the nucleus of an atom, and nuclear power plants are what hold the energy that is created.
There are two main types of nuclear energy; fission and fusion. Fission is when the nucleus of an atom splits. Fusion is when the nuclei of hydrogen atoms merge and create a larger nuclei as energy is being released.
Nuclear fusion requires high temperatures, therefore being a less popular choice for nuclear power. Scientists have yet to overcome the problems that comes along with it.

There IS a Better Way

Coal and oil are running out, and fast. This has become a big problem for people all over the world, so we have begun to look for other energies we could harness, the most popular seeming to be nuclear power and renewable energy.

Most seem to be leaning towards nuclear energy, even the President of the United States, because it seems like the easier and more cost effective option.

However, it can be shown that that is not exactly the case. Nuclear power is very dangerous, and has to be handled very carefully. It would bring about too many safety hazards and complications than it's worth, and renewable energies are just as resourceful. As stated in some articles, "Some people maintain that the risks of this technology may outweigh its benefits," and that is just the case.

Cost Effective: Yes or No?

Nuclear energy does seem like the more cost effective idea, however that's only the case for a certain amount of time. After thirty years of operation, the nuclear power plants need to be shut down permanently and reconstructed once more. In addition, these plants have to be refilled every 18 months and that comes at the cost of $40 million. Other renewable energy sources however, for example wind and solar power, need no refills or reconstructing because we have an unlimited source of sun and wind. Once we have those plants built, they will only need maintenance. And so, even though the expenses are higher than the nuclear plants in the beginning for these renewable energy plants, they pay off in the long run, so much more than the nuclear plants will.

Safety Issues

"For many people the greatest concern is the possibility of a major accident at a nuclear plant."

There are so many safety issues that come along with building and using nuclear power plants. Not only is there the risk of the power plant leaking radiation, but also the problem of storing the material and the waste. Radioactive waste stays highly radioactive for thousands of years after it's discarded. Therefore, it's extremely difficult to find storage spaces that are safe and secure and reliable enough to keep the radioactive waste in. Even if that happens it could cost lots of money to build and secure these places. And then we have the problem of finding a place to put all of the containers that contain the radioactive material that would be used for the plants. If we were to put the idea of building nuclear power plants into effect not only would we need a good storage system, but it could also be a huge target for terrorists or anyone else wishing to cause harm. It would make it easier for them to cause damage because they'd only need one bomb to make the impact. The whole idea is very risky and would harm the environment and put more people at risk.

(The little boy in the picture above was born mutated because of the incident at Chernobyl.)

Major Events


Chernobyl: "The reactor crew at Chernobyl 4 began preparing for a test to determine how long turbines would spin and supply power to the main circulating pumps following a loss of main electrical power supply. This test had been carried out at Chernobyl the previous year, but the power from the turbine ran down too rapidly, so new voltage regulator designs were to be tested."

When those new voltage regulators were tested in 1986, the accident known as 'The Chernobyl Disaster' took place as a result of a defective reactor. This explosion resulted in about five percent of the radioactive reactor core being released into the air. It left many dead, injured, or sick with radiation poisoning. The radiation leaked over 63,000 square miles across Chernobyl. This accident was one of the most impactful ones in a long history of similar kinds. (The photo above is an after picture of Chernobyl.)


Fukushima Daiichi: "The Great East Japan Earthquake of magnitude 9.0 at 2.46 pm on Friday 11 March 2011 did considerable damage in the region, and the large tsunami it created caused very much more."

Not only do nuclear power plant explosions occur by accidents and actions by mankind, but natural disasters can cause them too. In 2011 the power plant in Fukushima Daiichi exploded because of a tsunami which damaged the plant severely, leading to the plant exploding.

(The picture below is of the plant in Fukushima Daiichi exploding.)

Considering the Better Options

"Nuclear power has been a significant source of energy in many parts of the world since the 1950's."


As it was stated above, we've been looking into and researching this form of energy for 65 years now, which is mostly the reason so many people are for it. However, if we spent even half that time researching renewable energies, that could change. Renewable energies are far superior to nuclear for many reasons. They give off little to no global warming emissions, they would improve the public health and the environmental quality, there's an inexhaustible supply, it's a more labor-intensive industry, therefore providing new jobs, and therefore boosting the economy, and it's also is a more reliable and resilient system, (less likely to fail than others). This type of energy meets all the requirements we need it to and is one of, if not the best option. As a matter of fact, Germany has already shut down their nuclear power plants and has started using renewable energy. If they found a way, so can the rest of the world.

Citations

"Benefits of Renewable Energy Use." Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

"Britannica ImageQuest." Britannica ImageQuest. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

"Can REthinking Power Generation Create A Renewable Energy Future?" CleanTechnica. N.p., 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.

"CHERNOBYL HISTORY." Chernobyl History, Chernobyl Accident and Radiation Risk Nowadays in Chernobyl. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

"Chernobyl Q&A." Chernobyl Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

"New Nuclear Power Seen as Winner in Obama's Clean Power Plan." Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.

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"Nuclear Energy." Opposing Viewpoints. Gale, May-June 2015. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

"World Nuclear Association." Chernobyl. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.

"Nuclear Energy." SchoolTube. Hotchalk, 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

"World Nuclear Association." Fukushima Accident. World Nuclear University, 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

"World Nuclear Association." Chernobyl. World Nuclear University, 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.