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Nuclear Power Plants Essay

961 words - 4 pages

“On April 26, 1986, a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test destroyed Unit 4 of the nuclear power plant station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the former Soviet Union. The accident and the fire that followed released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment.” (U.S.NRC) Around the world nuclear power plants are used to substitute natural fossil fuels due to the increase in expense. Although power plants are better in cost they release SO2 and NOx into the air that form various acidic compounds and particles which remain in the air and ozone for days and even years. They come down in the form of acid rain which can lead to various health problems and deaths. Power generation is a significant source of pollutants that can impair the environment, economy, and human health.
To begin with, acid rain, the product of such accidents fall onto the environment affecting it in various ways. Lakes and streams are the most affected by acidification. A survey investigated what effects acidity had on over one-thousand lakes larger than ten acres and in thousands of miles of streams. “Of the lakes and streams surveyed, acid rain caused acidity in seventy-five percent of acidic lakes and about fifty percent of the acidic streams.” (EPA) Most aquatic organisms are not competent to such acidity, therefore die and decrease biodiversity. With the decrease of biodiversity the food chain is also affected and partially lost. Water ecosystems are not the only affected, acidification also accelerates the decaying of materials. Acid rain and dry deposition of acidic particles contribute to the corrosion of metals and the deterioration of paint and stone. Such effects can reduce the value of buildings, bridges, cars, and cultural objects such as statues and monuments.
Equally important, the costs of building nuclear power plants are highly elevated. During the building of the first generation of nuclear power plants they proved to be highly expensive to build. This led to half of them being abandoned during construction; and those who were completed saw huge cost overruns. According to a 2009 UCS report, between 2002 and 2008 costs for nuclear plant construction rose from two million dollars per unit to nine billion dollars. “With this track record, it’s not surprising that nuclear power has failed to attract private-sector financing—so the industry has looked to government for subsidies, including loan guarantees, tax credits, and other forms of public support.”(UCS) Taxpayers could be hooked to pay from anywhere between $360 billion to $1.6 trillion if the proposals for nuclear expansion were achieved. Taxpayers should decide what their money goes to especially if they are not for nuclear power plants.
In addition to, sulfate and nitrate particles are directly emitted into the air by power plants. Scientific literature demonstrates the correlation between such emissions and increased illness and...

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