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Nuclear Power: for or Against?

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    With a growing population, our need for electricity is an essential for modern living. Though, as our fossil fuel resources continue to deplete and the emissions of greenhouse gasses continue to grow, we now face the ever growing problem of finding power sources that are both renewable and virtually clean. As of now, in the year 2027, the city of New York has a population of over 24 million people, and now all face the skyrocketing prices electricity.

    The mayor has issued an important matter to address the welfare of the people claiming “We are in a time need, where electricity is a must for all citizens. The state of New York is now deciding if New York City should be powered by nuclear plants”. Should we build a new nuclear power plant to ease the power demand or continue to rely on the “already depleted” coal and other fossil fuels? As a matter of fact, we have no choice.

    Replacing our current power sources with nuclear energy is the biggest long term solution that will not only benefit the people, but also decrease the amount of greenhouse emissions that continue plague our breathing conditions. How does it Work? To attain nuclear power, plants fission atoms to release heat energy. One radioactive isotope used to extract the heat energy is uranium-235 which is easy to fission because of its uneven atomic proportion. With the release of heat energy, a plant then boils its water which in turn runs the turbines that generate electricity. Lai, L. , Morrison, K. , How It Works – The Scientific Process Behind Nuclear Energy, http://www. wagingpeace. org) Benefits of the Nuclear Powered Steam Generators Compared to other conventional approaches to providing electricity to the public, again, this approach to alternative power is very advantageous when weighed with power attained by fossil fuels alone.

    For example, “Nuclear power plants… emit virtually no carbon dioxide — and no sulfur or mercury either. ”(Totty, M. (2008). The Case For and Against Nuclear Power. ttp://online. wsj. com) Also, these plants are provided with sources of power that last longer and produce greater quantities of electricity, where in a plant that produces power by fossil fuels must have their supplies constantly replenished in order to keep on providing for the people. Misconceptions In the US today, most people are in opposition to nuclear power but only because of the faultiness of the technology and movies like “The China Syndrome” that made people fear the effects of radiation.

    For example, in the early years of nuclear power, incidents like the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island meltdowns only occurred because there wasn’t the advancement in technology to contain radiation Nuclear Power: For or Against? 2 leakage. Also, the reinforcements in case of emergency had all gone down which led to the meltdowns themselves. Because of these chained incidents, people now have a fear that there is a high risk factor for meltdown in a nuclear plant. Though, as we advance technologically, the risk of meltdown and radiation contamination are eliminated from zero to one percent. The next generation of plants are designed to be even safer… fewer possible places where equipment failure could cause a serious accident. ” (Totty, M. (2008). The Case For and Against Nuclear Power. http://online. wsj. com) Also with regard to safety, many people still believe that attaining fossil fuels are not hazardous, when in fact, when mining for coal alone causes 1,000 deaths annually in China. In addition also affects the air quality, which causes hundreds of thousands of deaths that are emission related. So turning to nuclear power seems to be the viable choice.

    Are there any Drawbacks? Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks that regard the construction of the nuclear plants (in general) and the waste disposal from the radioactive isotopes. Most are concerned about the location of the power plants. Even with the advancements of technology and the low benefactor for radiation seepage outside the plant itself, most do not want the ideas of radiation affecting the general health of the public. Another factor that comes to concern is the cost of building just one of these plants.

    Each takes billions of dollars to create and there is scarcity in the distribution of parts, making the construction even more challenging and time consuming. Also with waste disposal; most have agreed to store it deep underground to eliminate the factor of contamination within water and food supplies. But with long half-lives ranging from 10,000 years to as much as 240,000 years, many fear the risk of greater underground radiation. Lastly there is the factor of terrorism. With the waste left by uranium-235, one can potentially build a bomb as powerful as the one dropped at Nagasaki.

    This leads to the very real conclusion that even a plant can explode with the veracity of a nuclear bomb. (Nuclear Power: A Burden or a Blessing? http://www. 123helpme. com/assets/15974. html) Can we avoid this? In fact, yes, we can avoid such catastrophes. Instead of using fuels like uranium-235 that are greater risk to events like a meltdown, a thorium based reactor is the logical choice. Unlike other fuels, within a thorium based reactor, “beta-decay heat… can be passively dissipated in the environment, thus eliminating the risks of melt-down” (Thorium Reactor, www. horium. tv); meaning that there is little shielding needed to block radiation from escaping. Therefore little maintenance needed, when compared to other reactors. Nuclear Power: For or Against? 3 In addition, this concludes that thorium based reactors can be built with no size limitations, and thus far will be able to generate much more power; also because thorium is much safer to handle and lasts longer as a fuel source, it is much less costlier by hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Conclusion When a city as large as Manhattan is in an energy crisis, we must take advantage of the modern technology we are provided with. If the community decides to build this plant, it would not only benefit the people but also the environment with cleaner and renewable resources unlike conventional power sources such as fossil fuels that adversely affect all when emitted into the atmosphere.

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