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Nuclear Power Dangers, Benefits & Environmental Concerns

Nuclear Power Dangers, Benefits & Environmental Concerns

We are into the new era of science and technology where we are being forced to look for new and cleaner sources of energy. Our energy resources of fossil fuels are limited and also harmful for the environment because of the carbon emissions and other consequences associated with it.  The future of energy depends on how safely we use the reusable sources of energy like the sun and the wind. Nuclear power, however, could also play a major role if done safely, and might need more involvement from the government to address the safety issues.

Nuclear power – can it be the answer to our energy crisis?

Nuclear energy could be the future of our energy resource and our answer to energy shortages. Many believe that we will become increasingly reliant on nuclear power in the future to maintain our living standards. It would also minimize our carbon footprint and address the global warming issues by minimizing fossil fuel consumptions and carbon dioxide emission. The nuclear power is a powerful source of energy which does require serious safety regulations and measures for safe operation and maintenance.

Nuclear power and global climate change

We, the humans, are responsible for the sudden climatic changes around the globe. All the sudden climatic disasters that we are facing today are due to changes and damages to the earth’s atmospheric composition, imbalance of temperature, and increase in harmful green house gases such as CO2, CFC, and so on from burning the fossil fuels, industrialization, and unsafe methods of sustainable business practices. Even though many of the major companies are already adapting to the climatic changes and starting to minimize our global impacts, the climatic inertia, such as melting of ice caps and changes in ocean water temperature, and rise in our sea levels make our responses to climatic changes more complicated and challenging.

Global demand for safe and clean source of energy is growing rapidly. For decades, scientists have thought of nuclear power as a safe and clean alternative to fossil fuels and if done safely, it does not negatively affect the environment and leaves no carbon footprint. From the age of rapid industrialization to current era of computer and rapid growth of mobile technology, we have been increasing the amount of carbon we use and emit into the environment. We have also been increasing the global temperature by emitting harmful green house gases that deplete the environment and destroy the ozone layer, that protect us from harmful solar radiation. Nuclear power is a huge powerful source of energy that could substitute all our power generating plants that use fossils or of various forms.

Safety concerns – Are the nuclear power plants perfectly safe?


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  Keeping the nuclear power plants safe

The recent designs of the nuclear power plants are very safe, far safer than what they were in the early 1960s and 1970s. We hear about accidents like the one in the Three-Mile Island, or the accident at Fukushima, which was due to a human error as well as caused by a huge natural disaster. Far more studies have been made ever since to make the nuclear power plants safer. No one expected a 45 foot tsunami that overwhelmed the backup generators.

There has been only three major accidents, the Three Mile Island accident, Fukushima, and the  Chernobyl Accident in Russia, which made large part of Soviet Union unlivable back in 1986, among over 14,500 reactor-years of operation collectively around the world in 33 countries.

·      Managing nuclear generator toxic waste

A recent study shows that release of radiation and release of radio isotopes  from a nuclear power plant is far less dangerous than the radio isotopes released from natural gas at home. The cities do not need to worry about radiation from nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power plants are the only large scale power producing plans that takes responsibility in cleaning their own toxic waste and takes the cleaning costs into their production costs. Compared to the power generation and with other forms of fossil fuel base power plants, radioactive waste is relatively small. It is neither hazardous nor very difficult waste to manage. There are proven technology available today to dispose radioactive waste safely.

Economic Factors for developing nuclear power generators

Building, managing and running the nuclear power plants can be expensive and also require precision in technology and skills. USA has more private sector companies produce power from nuclear energy than anywhere else in the world. However the government of the United States has an active role in setting and monitoring the safety standards and the environmental impacts and setting goals for the nuclear power generation. US government also encourages nuclear powered plants to develop, evolve and grow through government funding. The policy makers of our country need to look into the possibilities and right regulations to develop nuclear powered generators in the USA.

Nuclear energy and the future

Nuclear energy is the promising new source of energy and could become our energy source of the future. Nuclear power generators are able to produce huge amounts of energy using very small amount of fuel. However, they are not easy to set up and could become expensive to build, manage and operate safely. It could also contain potential hazards or dangers if a disaster or accident takes place. How we dispose of the nuclear waste is also another concern for the environmentalists around the world. We need to develop all possible ways to replace fossil fuels with cleaner and sustainable resources such as nuclear power, wind and solar energy. We don’t have a choice but to explore every possibility.

Nuclear energy and the Environmental Professional

Because there has been relatively little new nuclear development in decades, there is a shortage of environmental professionals that are trained properly to deal with many aspects of what could be an emerging nuclear industry.  Generally, the majority of working nuclear environmental professionals are over 40 years old and many are closer to retirement than being in the midst of their careers.  There will be a great opportunity for properly trained new and young nuclear scientists in the future, even if nuclear power does not become a major ongoing energy source.

EPN will be conducting webinars and teaching classes for our members to learn more about the opportunities in the nuclear field.  You should watch for these opportunities as you continue to visit our site and as you advance in your training and in your careers.

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