Nuclear energy: is it good or bad for the environment?
Кондранова А. М., Куимова М. В. Nuclear energy: is it good or bad for the environment? // Молодой ученый. 2015. №8. С. 388-390.
I’ve always been concerned about global warming.
It seemed to me like working in nuclear power was a logical way
to do something to help the environment
Currently the percentage of nuclear energy production is rather low in the world, but it is likely to go up in the years to come. Russia is one of the countries that produces electricity from nuclear energy. Advanced, innovative nuclear technologies and engineering constructions are used for the production of nuclear fuel. However, the production of nuclear energy is not the main source of energy due to a number of drawbacks:
- high cost of the construction of nuclear power plants and insurance of safety and reliability;
- nuclear waste (people and the environment must be protected from the radioactive waste. It is to be isolated and dealt with safety);
- high cost of storage and disposal of the radioactive waste (nuclear waste decays slowly and is of serious hazard for thousands of years);
- risks of waste leaks and transportation mishaps;
- release of radioactive gases to the atmosphere;
- danger of accidents (terror attacks, volcanic eruption, earthquakes, tsunami, flooding, tornados, etc.) [5, 9, 10].
Nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima caused dramatic after-effects due to the release of radioactive materials. It takes years to restore the environment and people’s health . It is noteworthy that nuclear wastes are hazardous for many years and present a huge threat to our future generations. Moreover, nuclear energy facilities may be transferred from civil to military aims to contribute to the proliferation of weapons. Nuclear power plants must be well secured as not to become the target of terrorist organizations . To avoid and minimize all possible dangers, the production and management of nuclear energy must be a high and achievable priority in the countries with nuclear power plants.
However, there are sound offsetting justifications for the production of nuclear energy and operation of nuclear power plants:
- does not require a large area for the construction and work;
- does not depend on weather, like solar or wind, or hydroelectric plants;
- produces a million times more energy in comparison with wind or hydro turbines;
- does not produce carbon dioxide;
- does not emit gases and smoke particles;
- produces a relatively small volume of waste, although it is highly radioactive [6, 7, 8].
These benefits give some researcher the presumption to claim that nuclear energy is the way to stop global warming as they do not emit green house gases [2, 3, 4].
There is no unique solution to the problem of nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants produce electricity without greenhouse gas emissions which gives it environmental advantages over fossil fuels. At the same time, there are numerous moral, ethical and spiritual reasons against nuclear energy, as accidents may lead to catastrophic consequences both to peoples’ lives and to the environment. Moreover, there are challenging issues that the nuclear industry faces: scarce resources of uranium on earth, storage of nuclear waste, security concerns, etc.
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