Let's Get Nuclear Essay

Submitted By lookwhydav
Words: 1781
Pages: 8

Let’s Get Nuclear Imagine getting the lethal dose of radiation in under a minute. The Chernobyl incident involved exactly that after the two explosions. If nuclear power is this destructive and dangerous, why do humans even consider using this as an energy source? Well the thing to consider is that this reputation of nuclear energy is entirely undeserved. It’s almost been 28 years since this unfortunate disaster, and many improvements have been made regarding safety. But are these improvements satisfactory, and do the economic advantages outweigh the safety or environmental impact? Nuclear power is beneficial to society by decreasing energy dependency, minimizing fuel costs, and through its lack of impact on the health of the environment and people, contrary to popular belief and reputation.
Nuclear power is advantageous because it reduces a country’s dependency on foreign energy and increases its self-sufficiency. Nuclear power along with other renewable sources constitute the only means of energy self sufficiency a nation possesses, increasing the need for nuclear energy. The International Energy Agency and the Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security predict an oncoming oil-crunch due to the maximum production of oil being reached, not meeting the much higher demand. This would put countries that are unable to produce the majority of their own energy in financial and political risk, putting its own people in a state of turmoil. A major world power, such as Japan or the United States, in this position is highly vulnerable. In this situation these countries would need foreign energy, primarily consisting of oil, but because the supply isn’t sufficient, the prices would skyrocket sending a country into dangerous political and economic grounds. These countries depend fully on this energy, and when cut off from it, they are put in a desperate situation where they can be controlled politically.5 The increase of nuclear energy within a country would drastically reduce foreign energy dependence resulting in financial and political security.
A primary reluctance of many in furthering the development of nuclear energy is the fear of nuclear meltdowns. The percent chance of a nuclear meltdown happening in the United States is very slim due to the safety precautions that are now required, but weren’t present during other meltdowns, such as Chernobyl. Nuclear plants have ‘defense in depth’ which would reduce the odds of such an event to nearly zero. There are backups in case a certain system might fail, and there are backups in the small chance the initial backups aren’t successful. The Three Mile Island accident is deemed by experts as the worst nuclear accident to take place in the United States. This was only a partial meltdown, with two of the defenses still fully intact, including the containment building which trapped all but trace amounts of radiation. These containment procedures were noticeably absent from the Chernobyl incident and if they were present, the crisis would have been averted. The Three Mile Island population was fully protected from any radiation the plant may have emitted, with zero cancer deaths associated. Reactor meltdowns are also shown to be less dangerous than other sources of energy-related deaths. The average death count for a nuclear meltdown would be 400 deaths, which is far less than the estimated 10,000 deaths caused annually from coal burning.6 While the fear of nuclear meltdowns prevents the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad, this is an irrational fear because nuclear meltdowns are nearly impossible due to its defenses, and less deadly than most other sources of energy.
Economically, nuclear power is beginning to be revealed as the most viable and fiscally responsible energy choice for the future. The fuel costs are much lower for nuclear energy than it is for other energies such as coal, oil, gas and other renewable sources respectively. In 1999 nuclear