Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Power

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Nuclear energy, the energy that has not only pushed the world to where it is now but has hurt the environment in the process, was invented in 1951 by a scientist by the name of Enrico Fermi. Fermi and Leo Szilard, a scientist who was a colleague, were the first to discover nuclear reactors that caused nuclear chain reactions. Since then, there have been many objects turning nuclear powered, from nuclear rifles to nuclear aircraft. The radiation that nuclear energy gives off can destroy entire ecosystems and civilization near the plant if not correctly disposed of. Nuclear energy is both expensive and dangerous, but it has a positive effect on the environment.

Nuclear energy has a useful purpose, but there are some health risks involved. Just a few ways that radiation exposure can result in reactor accidents. Coming in close proximity to the radiation source can result in internal and external contamination. Body exposure is when someone’s skin comes into contact with a hazardous substance that can enter the internal parts of the body, depending on the type and amount of radiation. At high doses, ionizing radiation can cause immediate damage to a person’s body, including radiation sickness and death. The main sickness involved is cancer.

In Pripyat, Ukraine, in the Soviet Union, the world’s worst nuclear accident happened at the Chernobyl plant on April 26, 1986. It was reported that the radioactivity levels were abnormally high in the skies. Debris from the explosion set out several fires around the Chernobyl plant. The number of deaths directly caused by the Chernobyl disaster is usually estimated to be between thirty-one and fifty-six, but the long-term effects of the disaster have impacted a much larger number of people. The explosion in the reactor was likely caused by steam. Moments later, a second explosion was reported, which was probably an effect of the first one. More or less 6.5 million residents of the contaminated areas around Chernobyl received lower amounts of radiation. About six hundred workers at the power plant during the accident received very high doses of radiation and suffered from radiation sickness.

Chernobyl has had an environmental effect, as well. Forest food products such as berries, mushrooms, and animals contain particularly high levels of long-lived radioactivity. This contamination is expected to remain high for several decades. Bodies of water and fish became contaminated with radioactive materials. Consuming radioactive from animals or plants will be transferred to you. Since the accident has happened, the surface contamination has decreased, and levels of radiation measured in the air are now the same as before the accident in most areas.

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Global warming has been decreasing over the years, thanks to nuclear power. Nuclear power has a minute lifecycle carbon emissions. Fossil fuels are a significant contributor to the death toll each year. “The byproducts from burning fossil fuels are toxic pollutants that produce ozone, toxic organic aerosols, particulate matter, and heavy metals. (Wilkerson)” Out of seven million deaths, one out of every eight died from the chemicals emitted by fossil fuels. With nuclear energy, there are fewer greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels release an exponential amount of Carbon Dioxide gasses into the air. Carbon Dioxide gets trapped in the atmosphere and raises the temperatures worldwide. This can cause multiple events to happen. One being rising sea levels from the ice at the polar caps melting and breaking off into the ocean. Another event that has happened because of global warming is droughts. Droughts are from the areas of land that have a shortage of water for long periods of time. This causes the plants to dry out and animals to have to find food elsewhere. Big storms like hurricanes could be more extreme. Diseases will also be spread worldwide instead of where they originated.

Though there have been instances where nuclear energy has had a harmful effect on the earth and its atmosphere, there is an abundance of ways that it helps the earth. One is the amount of power that is being produced. For instance, a small quantity of uranium can be utilized to fuel a 1000 megawatt electric plant, providing enough electricity to power a city of about half a million people. Uranium is a heavy metal that comes from mostly rocks. It can be found in the earth’s ocean crust. “Its slow radioactive decay provides the main source of heat inside the Earth, causing convection and continental drift (What is Uranium? How Does it Work?)” “Reports show that with the yearly fuel consumption of today’s nuclear power plants, we have enough uranium for 80 years. (Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons)” Nuclear power takes a considerable chunk of change to get off the ground, but once up and running, and it is proven to produce inexpensive electricity. The uranium that is used to power the plant is a moderately cheap fuel source. A nuclear power plant also provides many new jobs for people. Thousands of people will be involved during the construction as well as four hundred to seven hundred permanent jobs after the construction is complete. The united states alone have one hundred and four up and running commercial nuclear plants.

Much like the accident that happened in the Soviet Union, the united states had a similar incident. This incident was a meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant. The team that was working that day was shutting they reactor down. The relief valve opens and then closes after a couple of seconds. In this instant, the valve did not close. The issue was that the team did not have anything that showed the exact position of the valve. “Responding to the loss of cooling water, high-pressure injection pumps automatically pushed replacement water into the reactor system. As water and steam escaped through the relief valve, cooling water surged into the pressurizer, raising the water level in it (Three Mile Island Accident).” In the team’s training, they were told that the pressurized water level was the only reliable indication of the amount of cooling water in the system. However, superheated steam and gases blocked the flow of water through the core cooling system. Throughout the morning, the operators attempted to force more water into the reactor system to condense steam bubbles that they believed were blocking the flow of cooling water. During that afternoon, operators attempted to decrease the pressure in the reactor system to allow a low-pressure cooling system to be used and emergency water supplies to be put into the system. The valve to being able to be closed, the radiation leaked into the air inside the plant and the surrounding areas. There were no lives lost in this accident.

Although few accidents have been reported, there are teams that are working on improving the safety of all people working on and around the plant. The groups of people are also working on protecting the environment. The design is a big part of the goal of keeping everyone safe and making more efficient energy. “The safety and approach consist of an adequate design for the site characteristics, multiple physical barriers to the release of radioactivity, and the application of strong safety requirements and proven engineering practices to ensure adequate safety margins and high reliability of design features that preserve the integrity of these barriers (Design of nuclear power plants).” This is accomplished for the most part by the utilization of innovation and materials of top quality, control, camera systems, and a blend of basic security features and designed safety systems. “A comprehensive safety assessment, including deterministic and probabilistic safety analysis, needs to be carried out to ensure that all safety requirements established for the design are met and are in accordance with relevant national and international codes and standards, laws, and regulations. (Design of nuclear power plants).”

Each person working at the plant has an outstanding job to do to ensure everyone’s safety. The plant operators’ job consists of being able to screen and work boilers, turbines, wells, and assistants with power plant gear. To monitor all frameworks for normal running conditions, performing activities, for example, checking measures to evaluate output or survey the impacts of generator stacking on other gear. They have to execute operational procedures such as those controlling start-up and shut-down exercises. The operators can dispatch requests and guidelines to faculty through radiotelephone or intercommunication systems to arrange to help hardware activities. The Nuclear Reactor Operator directs reactor administrators in crisis circumstances with crisis working strategies. The main job of the Radiation Protection Specialist is to maintain the safety of the plant. They test equipment like x-ray machines to control the radiation being emitted and to make sure it is safe for people to work on and around at any given time. “The protection specialist likewise has to test gear to establish that kilovolt potential, the arrangement of parts, and different components of hardware satisfy guidelines for safe activity, utilizing particular instruments and strategies (radiation-protection specialist).”

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