Should Production of Nuclear Power be stopped?
Issues regarding nuclear energy production have been intensively debated since the inception of nuclear power. People who support the production of nuclear energy feel that it is a more efficient, safe and cheap method of producing power for use. However, in reality there is more to worry about production of nuclear energy through its dangers in the event of an accident.
Also, nuclear power production is expensive contrary to what the people who are in support of the technology portray. Some believe the use of nuclear power technology should be stopped because of the high costs and risks that the technology poses. Therefore, should the production of nuclear energy be stopped?
Firstly, one of the disadvantages of nuclear power production is that it is very costly to produce. Nuclear power is derived from uranium which is a natural ore. Uranium ore is currently depleting therefore this tends to raise the prices of electricity up in the world. Considering that it is non renewable, the ore will be worn out with time.
The utilities used to construct a nuclear reactor are very expensive. The price tag for creating a large nuclear plant was between six billion and eight billion US dollars in 2010 (Beaver 399). Clearly, it is very expensive to put up a nuclear plant and maintain it too. Large tracks of land are required to build a reactor and a large proximity is required to where people live.
Secondly, nuclear power plants pose great risk on the environment. Nuclear powered plants emit thermal energy to the environment; this to the current predicament of global warming. Power plants normally dispose heated water to the rivers or other water bodies hence causing devastating effects to aquatic life and subsequently cause climatic changes.
There are fears from the community that the disposal of hot water that might be contaminated to rivers may also pose a risk to human beings since most of their water comes from rivers and lakes (William 161). Accidents can be catastrophic if radiation material is emitted to the environment. Although people who sympathize with nuclear power production argue that accidents are very rare, any accident that occurs causes extensive disastrous effects.
A good example of a disaster caused by nuclear power accident is the accident in Chernobyl in April 1986, the accident was the worst in history and it led to mass displacement of people and long-term deaths in the hundred of thousands according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Victims of Chernobyl disaster experienced illnesses such as cancer, stress and depression. To date people in Ukraine cannot drink water or locally produced foods (Miller and Spoolman 313).
Another example is Three Mile Island in March 1987 which had also emitted radioactive materials due to an accident caused by human error and component failure. Recently in Fukushima in Japan in March 2011, a massive tsunami overwhelmed the plant that caused a reactor meltdown creating a leakage of radiation and iodine. Radiations were later found in milk and spinach thousands of kilometers away from Fukushima (Coren, YouTube).
A few weeks later tiny amounts of iodine were discovered in countries as far as Iceland as well as the United States. These radiations pose a great public health risk and on the environment in general.
Natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis and earthquakes normally trigger the release of radioactive material from the reactors. Even with initiatives for safety by , these natural disasters are unavoidable. Despite the safety measures used by the plant, Fukushima failed to prevent emission of radioactive materials. Therefore, an increase in the number of the probability for the plants exposure to natural catastrophes.
Thirdly, materials used in the production of nuclear energy produce waste materials which are still radioactive and takes more than a thousand years for the waste to be decomposed. This leads to more costs in disposal of the waste materials from the plants. Wastes are normally disposed deep in the ground and this does not prevent it from being exposed to the environment due to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
Controversies revolving around how radioactive waste can be disposed in a safe way still stand out. In France recycling of radioactive material is done, but there is only a small amount of material that will be reused; in fact recycling of these materials to produce other fuel energy is more expensive.
Lastly, a platform for terrorists attack. Terrorists might easily get access to nuclear waste materials and are likely to expose them to the environment. Imagining a situation where terrorists attack a nuclear plant, it will expose the world to immense radiation levels. Despite security beef up, we can never be too sure of terrorist attacks not occurring. Radioactive wastes also provide materials for nuclear bomb creation by terrorists and some governments.
Nuclear energy has great advantages too despite its demerits. Nuclear power is not dependent on fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal which emit a lot of carbon dioxide in the environment. Nuclear power emits a lot lesser carbon dioxide gas to the environment, hence less pollution to the environment. A group of thinkers argue that nuclear power has less responsibility for global warming than fossil fuels. Statistics also show that many deaths in the United States are attributed to illnesses caused by burning coal.
Moreover, it is also argued that nuclear energy production costs are almost the same as coal, therefore it is better to use nuclear power and reduce emission of carbon dioxide and consequently the number of deaths related to illnesses caused by coal burning. Fossils fuels are expensive raw materials than uranium, hence leads to lower electricity costs for consumers.
Another advantage of nuclear power is that it produces a lot of power; this enhances efficiency in power production. Huge amounts of nuclear energy are produced using small amounts of fuel compared to other methods of energy production. In terms of reliability, nuclear power is the most efficient and reliable type of energy production.
Currently in the world, nuclear energy caters for eleven percent of the total populations energy needs (). In the United States of America twenty percent of the energy is produced from nuclear energy and currently the government is planning on putting up more plants to meet the rising needs of electricity.
Nuclear power also provides competition which drives the costs of electricity low to the consumer. The ready availability of uranium ore also reduces the cost of transporting fuel from distant places where they are found. With depletion of fossil fuels, nuclear energy will be the most appropriate method of avoiding shortages in the future-due to nuclear energy reliability (Energy Resources para 3).
Currently nuclear reactors are built with precision and are computerized; computerization has enhanced fewer accidents due to human error and component failure. Supporters of nuclear energy production argue that todays technology guarantees safety through computers that automatically shuts down the reactor in cases of faults.
Therefore, the production of nuclear power should be stopped. In spite of nuclear energy being very attractive, it has more disadvantages than advantages therefore there is more reasons to abolish the nuclear energy production.
The disasters evident from the nuclear reactors have led to increased levels of radiation and even deaths-in Germany studies have shown that many people living near nuclear power plants are likely to be suffering from leukemia. Nuclear power might be seen as a solution for electricity shortage today and in the future by some people but their effects are more disastrous and could lead to human extinction in our planet.
The claims of recycling nuclear wastes to new fuel elements accounts for a very small percentage energy capability which is not worth justifying the use of nuclear energy. The threat of terrorist attacks can be avoided through abolishing nuclear related practices, meaning there would be less probability of nuclear attacks, a few countries which are not politically stable bear great risk of terrorists acquiring weapons grade plutonium.
With the existence of other energy options which are safer such as hydro electric energy, solar energy and wind energy. These energies are safe and environmental friendly than nuclear energy. Harnessing these energies can supplement the use of nuclear energy considering that they are cheap and renewable.