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The Changing Issue Of Nuclear Power

1326 words - 5 pages

Energy production has always been an important issue to the United States. American’s want their country to set a good example for other countries to follow; however, they must accomplish this goal while meeting their own needs. This means that the U.S. obligated to find a clean, environmentally friendly way to supply its citizens with electricity. One of the most debated production methods involves the use of nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power plants are often considered to be very environmentally friendly (Dawson). This is because they are powered by a nuclear reactor and the only byproduct released into the air from operation is steam. Although this makes nuclear power plants seem to be the perfect solution to the American power dilemma, an issue arises because they also produce nuclear waste and radiation. These two negative byproducts of nuclear power have seeded fears in the American public for generations (Dietz).
As author Francis Dietz asserts, “[nuclear power was] Once reviled as a dangerous and unnecessary form of power generation that was going to melt us into oblivion or, at the very least, make our hair fall out…” These fears have been addressed and disproved by countless studies over the past few decades (Chapin et al.). Not only has recent research served to prove the safety of nuclear power plants in the U.S., new designs for nuclear power plants have also added to their security. Both GE and Westinghouse have developed new designs for plants that rely on passive safety measures. These improvements use things like the force of gravity to propel water instead of electric pumps. This means that safety systems would continue to operate normally even in situations of power failure (Winters).
Americans do not only fear that nuclear plants could become unsafe due to malfunctioning systems, they also fear how the plants could be used against them. There is a large fear that the waste created by nuclear power plants could be used by terrorists (Chapin et al.). If terrorists could secure nuclear waste from a nuclear power plant they could use it to make dirty bombs. Dirty bombs could then be used by the terrorists to spread nuclear radiation across a vast area or large populations if they were set off in cities. Although these dirty bombs can be hazardous, Dr. Fred Singer, presents the facts that dirty bombs are easily detected and harmful to those people who would attempt manufacturing of such a device (Maiello).
Singer also presents that U.S. nuclear plants and nuclear waste storage facilities are some the best protected industrial facilities in America (Maiello). Security at nuclear industry installations is closely monitored by the government and subjected to many tests. Private inspectors are paid to run mock attacks on nuclear plants and waste storage facilities to evaluate their security protocol. Many of the scenarios completed by inspectors of U.S. nuclear power plant security measures have met with failure (Chapin et...

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