Nuclear Energy, Your Opinion?
Nuclear Energy - Is it a Good Thing?
In this time of dwindling energy supplies and growing energy needs, I will discuss the value of nuclear energy. And the risk.
Should we focus on alternative energy sources, to nuclear energy?
Or is it the best source of energy for our huge Earth population?
Get in the Discussion
I want to hear your thoughts!
Nuclear power plants use a process known as nuclear fission to produce energy for many of our homes and businesses.
Nuclear fission is the splitting of the nucleus of an atom into parts, which often produce free neutrons and other smaller nuclei. These smaller parts may eventually produce photons (in the form of gamma rays).
Fission of heavy elements (think of the Periodic Table from your physics classes) is an exothermic reaction (releases heat) which can produce large amounts of energy. This energy is released as electromagnetic radiation and as kinetic energy of the fragments (heating the bulk material where fission takes place). Further along, the energy is turned into electricity.
Nuclear Energy: The History
In 1934, Enrico Fermi and his team managed to experimentally produce nuclear fission when they bombarded uranium with neutrons. His work was furthered by German scientists during the late 1930s. Many scientists recognized that if fission reactions released additional neutrons, a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction could result. One of the first scientists to recognize this was Leo Szilard.
Fermi and Szilard both immigrated to the United States where they were part of the team of scientists to develop the first man-made reactor, known as Chicago Pile-1, which achieved criticality on December 2, 1942. This work became part of the Manhattan Project, which built large reactors at the Hanford Site (formerly the town of Hanford, Washington, whom the residents were displaced). As you may recall, the Manhattan Project was the project to develop the first nuclear weapon (an atomic bomb) during World War II by the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
This development spurred other scientists in other countries to work on their own nuclear projects, which included the development of nuclear weapons.
The Push Toward Going Nuclear
The 1973 oil crisis had a significant effect on countries which had relied more heavily on oil for electric generation to invest in nuclear power. However, there has been a lot of pressure over the past 20+ years to discontinue development of nuclear power plants in the United States. The last U.S. commercial nuclear reactor to go on-line was Watts Bar 1, which came on-line in Feb. 7, 1996.
Many other countries, including China, India, and Japan are continuing to develop and build nuclear power plants.
James A. Lake, who is the associate laboratory director for the nuclear program at the Idaho National Laboratory, feels there is a strong likelihood that there will be a re-emergence of building nuclear reactors.
The strong economic and safety performance of nuclear power in the United States, the growing demand for energy, and the increasing awareness of the environmental benefits of clean nuclear power form the foundation for a nuclear energy renaissance that can support U.S. energy security, economic prosperity, and environmental quality goals in the 21st century.
A Video on the Future of Nuclear Power
Nuclear Energy, Are you for or against it?
Is Nuclear Power a Good Thing?
Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France
Dismantling a Nuclear Reactor
Nuclear power plants are licensed by the NRC for 40 years. After that, they can ask to renew their license, or they can shut down the plant and decommission it. Decommissioning means shutting down the plant and taking steps to reduce the level of radiation so that the land can be used for other things.
NRC has very strict rules for shutting down a plant. The NRC requires plants to finish the process within 60 years of closing.
Since it may cost $300 million or more to shut down and decommission a plant, the NRC requires plant owners to set aside money when the plant is still operating to pay for the future shutdown costs.
Nuclear power plants can be decommissioned using three methods:
1. Dismantling -- Parts of the reactor are removed or decontaminated soon after the plant closes and the land can be used.
2. Safe Storage -- The nuclear plant is monitored and radiation is allowed to decay; afterward, it is taken down.
3. Entombment -- Radioactive components are sealed off with concrete and steel, allowing radiation to "decay" until the land can be used for other purposes.
Sites Supporting the Use of Nuclear Energy
- The Renaissance of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power renewal promises to energize electricity generation worldwide and help address concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, despite remaining challenges. In the long term, nuclear energy could become safer and more economical, proliferation
- Going Nuclear
In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest c
- The greening of nuclear power - The Denver Post
A Denver Post opinion article supporting nuclear energy use.
- Green nuclear power coming to Norway
Safer, cleaner nuclear power is a step closer to reality after Norway's state-owned energy company, Statkraft, this week announced plans to investigate building a thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor.
Sites Against the Use of Nuclear Energy
- The Case Against Nuclear Power
Promoting a sustainable energy future
- Anti-nuclear Arguments
The waste problem hasn't been solved.
- Opinion: Germany Follows Own Non-Nuclear Energy Path
If Germany can prove that fighting climate change doesn't necessarily require nuclear power, other nations will follow. But if Germany fails, a nuclear renaissance may result, says DW's Jens Thurau.
- Nuclear power process contributes to CO2 pollution
USA TODAY's editorial on nuclear power repeats the common misperception that nuclear power doesn't contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
- Modular Pebble Bed Reactor
What's Wrong With the Modular Pebble Bed Reactor? The pebble bed reactor is being touted as nearly "accident proof." It is being hailed as the savior of the nuclear industry. Three Mile Island Alert opposes this reactor design because of its inheren
Nuclear Plants in the US
List of Current Nuclear Power Plants in the Unites States - This is not a complete list yet
- Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania
- Bellefonte, Alabama
- Calvert Cliffs, Maryland
- FitzPatrick, New York
- Bear Creek, New York
- Hope Creek, New Jersey
- Indian Point, New York
- Limerick, Pennsylvania
- Millstone, Connecticut
- Nine Mile Point, New York
- Oyster Creek, New Jersey
- Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania
- Pilgrim, Massachusetts
- Salem, New Jersey
- Seabrook, New Hampshire
- Susquehanna, Pennsylvania
- Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania
- Vermont Yankee, Vermont
- Browns Ferry, Alabama
- Brunswick, North Carolina
- Catawba, South Carolina
- Crystal River 3, Florida
- McGuire, North Carolina
- North Anna, Virginia
- Oconee, South Carolina
- Virgil C. Summer, South Carolina
- Sequoyah, Tennessee
- Turkey Point, Florida (hit by Hurricane Andrew)
- Watts Bar, Tennessee
- Byron, Illinois
- Braidwood, Illinois
- Clinton, Illinois
- Davis-Besse, Ohio
- Duane Arnold, Iowa
- Enrico Fermi, Michigan
- Monticello, Minnesota
- Perry, Ohio
- Prairie Island, Minnesota
- Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas
- Callaway, Missouri
- Diablo Canyon, California
- Grand Gulf, Mississippi
- Palo Verde, Arizona
- River Bend, Louisiana
- South Texas, Texas
- Wolf Creek, Kansas
Three Mile Island
The Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was the worst nuclear power plant accident in world history. This accident resulted in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following the destruction of reactor number four.
The 2005 report by the Chernobyl Forum, which is led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra deaths due to cancer among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed and 5,000 among the 6 million living nearby.
Although the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and certain limited areas will remain off limits to the public, the majority of affected areas are once again considered safe for settlement and economic development.
An Eyesore or an Energy Saver?