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Nuclear Energy: The New Green Energy Alternative?

1043 words - 4 pages

The nuclear energy debate has persisted for decades. Those who strongly oppose it argue that its benefits, such as carbon-free emissions and low fuel costs, are almost irrelevant when the risk posed by radioactive waste and reactor meltdowns are factored in. The problem revolves around how little waste storage is prioritized in the planning stages of a reactor, including the locations of waste storage, leading to a surplus of radioactive waste at reactor sites. With the progress being made to advance waste disposal methods and increase public participation in countries that need storage for accumulating waste and developing countries considering nuclear energy, nuclear energy could be the new "green" energy alternative.
For nuclear energy to be accepted by politicians of developed and developing countries and individuals that will live near reactors, the planning stages for the final step, the repository, should be prioritized. A repository, a facility which successfully houses highly radioactive waste for thousands of years, needs proper planning in order to avoid long-term problems. However, common misconceptions such as that repositories sites may leak radioactive material into the environment make up one of the reasons why nuclear energy is rejected as an energy option. In fact, "Sweden is currently the country closest to realizing a final solution for spent fuel" and, along with Finland and France, is close to begin construction on a geological repository (MacFarlane). However, all of this starts with the prioritization of the planning and siting stages of nuclear waste repositories.
According to Allison McFarlane in her research paper "It's 2050: Do you know where your nuclear waste is?", countries developing their waste management plan must first implement institutions, such as the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, that will consider all aspects involved in the selection of a geological repository. Once such an institution, whether it is overseen by the government or privately owned, is established countries can turn their attention to conceptualizing strategies to garner public cooperation, change environmentalists negative opinions, and overcome political opposition, which seems to be the death of many of these projects. If developing countries are more inclined to utilize nuclear energy with a clear and safe method of disposal established, they, along with nuclear states, will be more open to the idea of a multinational repository site. A multinational site would mean a reduced amount of spent fuel and radioactive waste at already overburdened nuclear reactors that would be waiting decades for a geological repository to be built (McCombie).
Careful planning and support from volunteer communities have helped repository sites like the one in Osthammar, Sweden avoid the fate of the United State's Yucca Mountain Project. The United States is an established nuclear state with many reactors providing a...

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