Nuclear Power Plants Are Safe Essay

875 words - 4 pages

Nuclear fission was discovered in the 1930s and, with that discovery it opened the doors to an exciting new field of energy production. When first discovered, it was so misunderstood that some children’s toys actually included live radioactive material. However, we learned from our mistakes and moved forward. Today, nuclear reactors that produce electricity for the populace are common in big cities, in some rural areas, but how safe are they really? This question is being brought up again by the events in Japan with the nuclear reactors there. Are the reactors in use today any safer and are we in any danger from them?
When the word nuclear reactor is mentioned in passing today, it is usually associated with giant, concrete cooling towers emitting torrents of steam, a mushroom cloud rising high into the sky, or even Homer Simpson asleep at the control panel. Nuclear energy is so much more than that. When first discovered it was praised as being a low-cost, low mission alternative to fossil fuels, which is extremely good for the entire, but today with the threat of nuclear meltdowns, safety has become a key issue. ”In the United States, 104 nuclear power plants supply 20% of the electricity overall, with some states benefiting more than others.” (Brain, Lamb 1) With that many reactors in the United States alone, people have a right to know if operations are conducted safely. That information can be quite worrying to some, but when we actually look at the track record of nuclear power, another side is told. In the World Nuclear Association’s Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors it states there have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power - Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. One was contained without harm to anyone and the other involved an intense fire without provision for containment. These are the only major accidents to have occurred in some 14,000 cumulative reactor years of commercial operation in 32 countries. Overall, we’ve been very lucky. The safety protocols put in place have helped keep the amount of accidents to only two.
Even though these policies help keep everyone safe from nuclear disaster, they are not perfect. Just recently, in Japan, they received a massive earthquake followed by a tsunami. The odds of an earthquake and tsunami to be of such a high magnitude and to occur there in Japan are incredibly low, in the range of 1:10,000. So of course, technicians of the nuclear plant did not plan for this eventuality. Making room for disaster to happen. “The announcement opened a new and ominous chapter in the five-day-long effort by Japanese engineers to bring the six side-by-side reactors under control after their cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and a tsunami last Friday.” (Sanger,...

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