Top Scientific studies have found that nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases, and they can be used to mitigate the issue of global warming. For the past thousands of years, an average production of greenhouse gases has been maintained. However, with the population explosion, humans demand more energy, which poses a risk of exhaustion of fossil fuels.
Despite the findings that nuclear energy is much cleaner than fossil fuels, recommendations to use it have not been received with excitement. This is a high contrast to how nuclear power was received during its first two decades. In fact, the inventor of the first peaceful nuclear power plant in the USA, Navy Admiral Hyman Rickover, had a difficult time dealing with excessive enthusiasm from the public.
What’s exciting about nuclear power?
Aside from being a leaner form of energy, nuclear power is relatively cheap to run. That said, the cost of building a nuclear power plant is very high but due to its cheap running cost, the cost of nuclear energy is lower than that of fossil fuels as a means of producing electricity and the risk of operation cost inflation is very low.
Why nuclear power is perceived dangerous?
There are a lot of fears that surround nuclear energy today, and most of these are based on these incidents:
- A partial nuclear reactor meltdown in Three Mile Island in 1979
- An explosion and fire in a flawed reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986
- A nuclear power plant meltdown in Fukushima in 2011, following a tsunami
- Not to forget, atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945
Michael Shellenberger, a contributor Forbes argues that in the first three incidents, there were no deaths and that the government’s reaction was to freak out and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people instead of encouraging them to stay calm. These people might never return to their homes, and this has caused hostility towards nuclear power.
However, research shows that the fear of nuclear power is not unfounded. Nuclear power plants release a lot of radioactive waste (gas, solid, and liquids) which is disposed of using various methods such as:
- Low level and intermediate waste are disposed of in surface facilities. Intermediate waste requires shielding.
- High-level waste produced decay heat which raises its temperature, and that of the surroundings, therefore, requiring cooling and shielding using methods such as dry cask storage, which uses steel cylinder, inter gases, and water. The cylinders are further inserted in concrete ones to minimize chances of leaking.
The half-life of radioactive waste is what makes it dangerous. Some components of radioactive waste have half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years, some even more than a million years. Thus, too much waste would be difficult to control and manage since decay is very slow. Therefore, fears of nuclear power are founded on its effects on future generations and the environmental disasters that leakage of the same could cause. Ensure that you have good cybersecurity when researching about nuclear power online by using VPN, but first, find out, is VPN legal?