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Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 4 10

What You Should Know

Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons

Nuclear energy has many benefits; however there are also a lot of negative aspects directly associated with the nuclear industry.  Thus it is useful to think about nuclear energy pros and cons when determining the utility and benefit of this kind of alternative power.

Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons

The Pros of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy provides 19.2 percent of all the electricity in the United States. Although the nuclear Industry provides a lot of the electricity, the emissions output is zero. An emission free source of power such as that which the nuclear industry provides is simply amazing.

Many proponents of nuclear energy are in favor of renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power, however to get our country to the level it needs to be will take many years. The best way to keep our country from an energy crisis is to have a reliable and inexpensive source of energy. Nuclear energy fits what we need.

Although building a new reactor facility is very expensive, the ongoing costs of generating energy are extremely cheap. More nuclear facilities could easily power more than the 19.2% they are already powering, and do it cheaper.

By relying more on nuclear energy and less on fossil fuels we will not have to spend as much of our money in the Arab oil producing countries or be at their mercy in terms of petroleum price fluctuations. By being in charge of all of our energy needs without having to buy oil from overseas we will be able to have a more secure nation, and in theory less wars for our troops to fight and die for.

Cons of Nuclear Energy
The 2011 Nuclear Disaster in Japan

It seems that every time the public begins to support more nuclear facilities another nuclear disaster strikes. The most recent nuclear tragedy occurred in Japan. Millions of people were exposed to radioactive contamination in the air. Proponents of nuclear energy like to say that nuclear energy is a truly clean fuel, unlike fossil fuels. While this may be true, it is only true as long as there are no nuclear meltdowns.

Environmental threats are one of the most common concerns regarding nuclear energy. Chernobyl had a major nuclear disaster occur in 1986. The town of Prypiat (in what used to be the Soviet Union but is now the Ukraine) is still abandoned today because of the Chernobyl disaster and Geiger counters still go off the chart when measuring the deadly radioactive waste that contaminated the area. If a wind turbine breaks down then there is no impact on the environment. If on the other hand a nuclear facility goes into a meltdown, the impact on the environment is truly devastating.

In addition to the huge environmental threats that nuclear energy poses, loss of human life is another major concern. Many people died when the Chernobyl disaster struck plus people are still struggling with high rates of cancer and other diseases that were caused by exposure to the radiation. There are people who have diseases directly attributed to the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even though they were not even born at the time it occurred. The loss of human life at such a grand scale cannot be underestimated when debating nuclear energy pros and cons.

Radioactive Waste

There is also no safe manner of nuclear waste disposal. Nuclear waste is a by product of producing nuclear energy, yet the safe storage and disposal of the waste is a huge dilemma that still has not been solved.

Another huge negative aspect of nuclear energy is that any country who is producing nuclear energy may also be able to produce nuclear weapons. If a war breaks out and nuclear weapons are used, it could mean the end of civilization on earth. The human species could go the way of the dinosaurs since this kind of energy is powerful enough to wipe out whole populations with certain conditions in place.

There are many nuclear energy pros and cons, but considering everything involved it seems to make much more sense to use biomass and other green energies such as solar power and wind power to meet our energy needs.

Sources:

http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/usnuclearpowerplants/

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Comments

Mar 20, 2012 5:33am
Tom_Carver
This is a nice balanced article and I have to say that I am a sit on the fence merchant myself. The fact that it is an emission free source is a big plus but I have never been swayed one way or the other. Rather easy when you do not have a plant on your doorstep. Great thought provoking article.
Mar 23, 2012 12:37am
Deborah-Diane
Very interesting article. I am undecided myself ... and I live only 25 miles from a nuclear power plant that is currently partially shut down because they are having some kind of malfunction. Worrisome, I must say!
Apr 16, 2012 4:42am
tekaha
thank you to both of you for reading the article! most people generally neutral about nuclear power until it is in "their own backyard". i would love to know how the people of japan feel one year after the earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear problems.
Apr 19, 2012 9:19am
southerngirl09
What is the answer? I think wind and solar power are good answers, but they are not readily available everywhere at this time. The very best answer is CONSERVATION; use less energy and save our planet, and possibly even your own life. Great featured article!
Apr 19, 2012 5:39pm
footloose
Congratz on the feature. I agree with southerngirl09 that conservation is the bet so far. Nuclear energy is clean, but I think there is even something better to be announced in 2012.
Apr 20, 2012 3:29am
RobS87
I think Nuclear is the only way. But maybe not the current form. Watch the first 5 minutes of this movie:
http://thoriumremix.com/2011/
Apr 24, 2012 11:56am
axvoiceinc
No doubt nuclear energy is good but we could not find out a better way to deal with the nuclear waste.
May 21, 2012 5:25am
rabasure
Considering the pros and cons of nuclear energy, it is true that nuclear energy is always risky and the threat of meltdown is always looming large.But countries like India which depends upon monsoon, we have no scope for producing solar or wind energy on a large scale but only to a limited extent.So we have no other go but learn to live with an additional risk in our life.
Jan 15, 2013 7:58pm
LanceD
Nuclear waste is a political issue, not a scientific issue. France recycles their waste, but America made it illegal for to plutonium fears (even though most countries recycle their nuclear waste, so terrorist could just get their plutonium elsewhere). Besides that, nuclear facilities are high-security compounds. I know because I work in the nuclear industry. We have the technology to recycle nuclear waste, to store it safely, and we even spent billions of tax dollars on Yucca mountain to do so. But again, no politician wants the wrap for letting nuclear waste in their state. Important fact: since the federal government won't give us a place to store it, we are putting it in dry cask storage in parking lots at nuclear power plants. The issue isn't science. We've had that for decades. It's politics.
Mar 19, 2013 2:39pm
DarrenHaynes
Nuclear waste is a serious problem and one of the reasons I am not for nuclear energy. The life of the nuclear waste itself is way longer than that of the containers they are put in. It is buy now, pay later situation. There is a lot of waste too. There is not just a little truck that comes out of a nuclear plant once a month to drop off a little container, there is lots of this stuff. What happens in the future when we have a HUGE amount of nuclear material "buried away"? The waste is a big deal, and it is really downplayed with statements like "nuclear energy is safe and without emissions, we just got to 'figure out the waste thing'". It is going to be a problem down the road.

Solar panels on every house, and or a wind generator in the garden; plus wind farms and solar, plus people getting more energy conscious of what they use. I think this is the soulful solution IMHO.



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