Nuclear: Risks and Rewards

The United States and India just came to an agreement that will further the expansion of nuclear power. This agreement will cause the creation of several nuclear plants in India by U.S. companies. With its expansion comes questions of its risks and rewards.

Nuclear energy has a bit of an ominous history. What comes to most people’s minds is Chernobyl. The Chernobyl disaster was caused by the explosion of one of the power plant’s reactors. The outcome of this is still being felt today by those impacted by the radiation. Due to this radiation there is a “zone of alienation” that extends 19 miles in every direction of the power plant. Many are afraid of nuclear power plants due to the effects of the radiation fallout that occurs many miles away from a destroyed plant.

The radiation fallout produced by the Chernobyl disaster.

The radiation fallout produced by the Chernobyl disaster.

Another concern with nuclear energy is the nuclear waste that is produced. It is estimated that each nuclear reactor will annually produce 20-30 tons of nuclear waste. Nuclear power works through the intense heating of water through uranium to spin a turbine and generator. The combined uranium and water creates toxic waste, which many are concerned with the disposal of. The current solution is to take the nuclear waste and bury it deep into the ground into a  “permanent geological repository”.

Nuclear power does have many advantages over natural gases though. Nuclear energy has the lowest impact on the environment due to the fact that it does not release any greenhouse gases such as oil and natural gases do. It is also extremely powerful and very efficient.

Many risks do come along with the implementation of nuclear power, but there are many advantages too. Its expansion is dependent upon weighing the risks and rewards.

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