Nuclear Power Is A Safe And Reliable Alternative

2072 words - 8 pages

Alternatives to oil, along with the other fossil fuels, have been gaining popularity in the wake of high prices and elevated awareness of global warming. While solar, wind, hydro, and even geothermal have been getting press about being the means to lower CO2 production, and become less dependent on foreign oil, there is an alternative that rarely is mentioned. The mere reference of nuclear power conjures images of meltdowns and mushroom clouds. Despite the advances in efficiency, safety, and technology, public opinion has changed little since the years of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. It is this misguided sense of impending doom from nuclear power that has deterred much of the population from accepting it as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This doubt and fear of nuclear power needs to come to an end, and serious consideration needs to be given. Nuclear power is a safe, efficient, and reliable alternative source of electricity for the United States and the world as a whole.
A prominent issue with nuclear power is the supposed increase of radiation levels in nearby communities. This idea has never held much scientific weight, being more of a scare tactic. The additional radiation a person receives by living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant amounts to roughly .01 mrem annually. (mrem or millirem is a unit of measurement used to quantify exposure to radiation) (NSC) To put that into perspective, the average amount of radiation exposure for a person from natural sources is roughly 300 mrem annually. (LBNL) Getting a dental x-ray is equal to 1 mrem, or roughly equal to living near a nuclear power plant for 100 years. With such a negligible increase, there is little surprise that the National Cancer Institute also found no increased risk for cancer among people living near nuclear power plants in the US.
Opponents of nuclear power, like Jim Motavalli, also use the fear of nuclear accidents and terrorism as a reason to avoid nuclear power . These are very connected ideas, especially after 9/11 when the idea of terrorists causing nuclear power plants to meltdown as another way to attack the United States hit the news. In the years since Chernobyl advances in policies and construction have decreased the chance of meltdowns, while also increasing the safety of surrounding areas in the event one does happen to occur. This has led to nuclear reactors around the world being built inside containment buildings, designed to contain any failure of the reactor. In the wake of 9/11, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission took it one step further in the US, requiring new nuclear power plants to be built in a way that reactor containment remains intact, cooling systems continue to function and spent fuel is protected even in the event of a direct airplane crash. (Washington Post) While these regulations only affect newer nuclear projects, ever improving procedures and knowledge of the nuclear process increase the safety of current reactors. This...

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