Nuclear Energy…Is it an option for Australia?
Yes, nuclear energy is an alternative to fossil fuels, but is it safe? No, I think not. Nuclear energy is a danger to the environment and everything in it and this report will detail the pros and cons of this risky alternative and look at other possibilities to care for our everyday energy needs.
It might help you to understand my views if you know how nuclear power works. There is a vast amount of energy found in the nucleus of the atom. This is where nuclear power comes from.
The fuel used by nuclear plants for nuclear fission is uranium. Uranium is non-renewable. Uranium, U-235, is used because its atoms can be split easily. Once uranium is mined the U-235 must be extracted and processed before it can be used.During nuclear fission, a particle called a neutron hits the uranium atom and splits it, releasing an immense amount of energy as heat and radiation. More neutrons are released and these neutrons go on to bombard other uranium atoms, and the process repeats itself. This is called a chain reaction.
Fission generates heat in a reactor, and then the heat boils water into steam. The steam turns huge turbine blades and as they turn, they drive generators that make electricity. Afterward, the steam is converted back into water and cooled in a cooling tower. The water can be used again and again. (This water use is also a concern).
After all this has occurred and the uranium can no longer be used, what do we do with it? Dump it in a nearby river? Or perhaps bury it underground, where no-one knows it’s there? “The issue of safe disposal of radioactive waste & outdated plants has not been resolved”,  says environmentalist David Suzuki. Jeremy Rifkin agrees. “Sixty years into the nuclear era, our scientists still don’t know how to safely transport, dispose of or store nuclear waste”.  “Nuclear waste can have half lives of 10 000’s of years. No civilization has lasted that long.”[³] It doesn’t really matter where you dump the stuff, it’s going to affect the environment in a negative way.
Waste disposal isn’t the only problem that I see with nuclear energy. There are several other points that need to be explored, the first: terrorism. People could easily go into a nuclear facility and do one of two things. Steal the radioactive material for bombs or blow the place up. This is why they are a major target for terrorist groups. The production of nuclear electricity in countries that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty is a worry for any country that is afraid of nuclear war. Any nuclear plant can be quickly converted into a nuclear bomb-making facility. “Isn’t it hypocritical of us to go to war with a country over non-existent nuclear weapons, yet we supply most of the world’s uranium, and now suggesting that we use something that could give us the upper hand on the little guy if World War 3 broke out?” (Maria Hele-Kapodistria.) Don’t we think it’s about time we start thinking...