Nuclear Energy: Energy of the Future or Imminent Disaster
Since the year 1954 people have been faced with the conundrum of nuclear energy. This process though unfamiliar with some, is when decaying uranium heats water that then turns a turbine which produces energy. In the coming years nuclear energy is going to play a major part in the worlds energy consumption if we are to meet carbon goals. Though nuclear energy has been around for over fifty years the battle still wages on over its use throughout the world.
When most people hear nuclear energy the first thing that comes to there mind is nuclear disasters. One of the most notable events that took place “On April 26, 1986,[when] human error resulted in an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev, Ukraine. The accident left fifty workers dead, and leaked radio active materials across Europe.” (Duprea 2) Accidents like these and others have made the public quite weary of nuclear energy. This out of the fear of contracting illness, like cancer, from radioactive material released in such accidents. Though these accidental disasters are not the only threat to the public.
Also a major threat to nuclear plants is the potential for a terrorist attack. “According to a report issued by the American government commission which investigated the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda initially planned to hijack planes and fly them into U.S. nuclear facilities.”(Duprea 3) This leads us to ask are these plants worth the future possibility of a nuclear disaster on domestic soil?
Though accidents are one of the detrimental effects on the environment it is not the only one. “The creation of usable energy at nuclear power facilities leaves a radioactive waste by-product, comprised of such matter as spent ‘nuclear fuel’.” (2) This nuclear waste very deadly when came in contact or in the immediate vicinity and is now for the time being is being stored in facilities at each plant. However this is just a band-aid, eventually this waste must be taken to a larger storage facility. The transportation of such waste leads to the potential for an accident while in route which could injure the surrounding community. Despite this “Industry representatives and federal officers have fought to build a single national waste repository at Yucca Mountain, in the Nevada desert. Recent studies, however, show that the mountain, formerly believed to be dry, may leak water, which would make it an unacceptable vault.” (Mark 5) With the vault not scheduled to open until 2021 the logistical nightmare of transporting the waste can still be worked on.
This waste can also be reused as nuclear energy or refined to make a crude nuclear weapon. Even though “President Jimmy Carter banned the use of reprocessing technologies in all U.S. reactors in 1977, but such programs are still in operation in Japan, England, France, Russia, and India.” This reprocessing could lead to unstable and...