Nuclear energy is inherently destructive and unsafe. After all, nuclear energy is nothing but the controlled use of an explosive, radioactive force. However, certain precautions can be taken to make it relatively safe when compared with other traditional forms of electrical generation.
Nuclear energy has gotten a bad rap since 1986. That was the year of the worst nuclear disaster in the world in Chernobyl, Ukraine. That was a case of everything going wrong at the same time in a nuclear power plant that was built unsafely and without containment precautions. Human error was the primary factor. The disaster was primarily the result of untested experiments that went horribly wrong.
Lately we have new facts about nuclear power plants that show that even though most standard precautions are taken, a problem can occur in cases of large natural disasters. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan suffered from broken containment, core meltdown, and cooling failures as the result of a major earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Later, it was revealed that required safety inspections were not made at the plant, corners were cut and safety documents were forged, all of which led to making the disaster worse than it could have been.
When a nuclear reactor melts down and leaks radioactive matter into the environment, it causes death and mutations in both animal and plant life. Even worse, the contaminated areas may be uninhabitable for decades. The area directly surrounding the plant usually must be contained and remain contained for thousands of years, or more radiation may seep out.
While this seems horrible, nuclear power must be put into perspective with the other leading form of energy production in the world: fossil fuel power plants. Coal, oil and natural gas power plants are extremely destructive, also. Emissions from burning coal are spewed into the atmosphere at an alarming rate. In addition, an average of 35 coal miners die in the United States every year. The number that died directly from radiation exposure at Chernobyl was 31. Of course, this doesn’t count the 100 radiation injuries and the 6,000 to 10,000 cancer deaths attributed to the Chernobyl disaster, but it also doesn’t consider all of the black lung deaths and cancer caused by air pollution from coal power stations.
The safest form of electricity is sustainable electricity. This includes solar power, wind power, hydroelectric and tidal power. The only problem is that with current technology, all of the available sustainable power in the world may not be enough to support the estimated 9 billion people that will populate the world by 2050. Scientists estimate that the world energy needs will be a total of 28 terawatts per year in 2050. Sustainable energy with current technology will only be able to produce 18 to 22 terawatts.
As a final thought, all that can be said is nuclear power can be made relatively safe if all the safety protocols are followed, and someday we may not be able to support our global society without it.
Posted 3317 day ago