Nuclear energy has had its fair share of disasters and problems that have tainted its efficiency in energy production. Even though nuclear power is more reliable, it is expenditure intensive as a lot of money has to be spent on safety. In the event of a technical hiccup a nuclear accident can be the cause of a major catastrophe. This fear has a created an increasing concern in people. In the fastest-growing 1990’s source of energy was nuclear power. However in year 2005, it was ranged as the second slowest-growing. On April 26, 1986, an accident took place at Unit 4 of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in what used to be the USSR. The accident was as a result of power surge. This led to the destruction of the reactor releasing immense amounts of toxic radioactive substances into the environment. Two people were killed on site while 134 received high radiation doses and suffered from acute radiation sickness. Of these, twenty eight workers died in the first four months of the accident while receiving treatment. In addition though the production process does not emit a lot of waste it is hazardous and hence it must be sealed up and buried for many thousands of years to allow the radioactivity to die away. For all that time it must be kept safe from earthquakes, flooding, terrorists and everything else. Putting this measures in place can be time consuming and very difficult.
Countries with nuclear power, have a radioactive waste budget of less than 1% of total industrial toxic wastes, due to its nature much of it remains hazardous indefinitely. In general, nuclear power produces far less waste material by volume than fossil-fuel based power plants. This trait makes it more environmentally friendly. Coal-burning plants are popular for releasing large amounts of toxic and mildly radioactive ash due to concentrating naturally occurring metals and mildly radioactive material from the coal. According to a recent report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory coal power results in more radioactivity being released into the environment than nuclear power operation, and in addition population effective dose equivalent from radiation from coal plants is 100 times as much as from ideal functions of nuclear plants. In fact, as much as coal ash is much less radioactive than nuclear waste, ash is released directly into the environment, while nuclear plants use shielding to protect the environment from the irradiated reactor vessel, fuel rods, and any radioactive waste on site.
It is a common belief by most proponents of nuclear energy that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source. They base their argument on the fact that it reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on foreign oil. They also assert that nuclear power produces virtually no conventional air pollution, such as greenhouse gases and smog, which is a sharp contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel. The proponents further claim that nuclear energy is the only chief alternative and productive course to tread on towards the realization of energy independence by the western countries. The risk of waste storage is less since there are more effective technologies developed that can aid in this. Waste emission can also be further be reduced by the use of the latest technologies in newer reactors. .
Opponents on the other hand strongly believe that nuclear power poses myriad threats to people and the environment. These threats mostly boarder the problems of processing, transport and storage of radioactive nuclear waste. In addition proponents fear the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism resulting from most of these plants. Nuclear reactors have also been the bases of serious accidents that resulted in deaths and serious contamination.
During the planning stages of a nuclear plant certain factors are imperative. The initial capital cost of construction which is normally very high. However, the fuel cost is normally low compared to other energy production methods. In addition proper infrastructure and quick response emergency measures are an important factor. Moreover settlement and the landscape of construction should not be ignored as they add up to the overall requirements.