Monday, July 22, 2019

Issues in Nuclear Power

Issues in Nuclear Power Dear Sir, I have read your article, The Truth About Nuclear Power. Your ideas and opinions hold much significance and are compelling. You describe Nuclear energy as dirty, dangerous, expensive, un-sustainable, prone-to-terrorism and impractical. However, I would like to present my personal concepts and sentiments on the topic which might negate your proposals. To start, life is motion; and everything that tends to move has an inherent property to emit energy in some way. Mankind has been trying to utilize, conserve and generate this very energy for years. And while many sources of energy are being used, the concept of self-sustaining energy source is still very much theoretical. The dire need of a superior source of energy rose and Nuclear Energy was discovered in the quest. The first concern you mention is that of Nuclear Power being dirty. To my knowledge, Nuclear Power is perhaps the most refined method to generate power. No doubt nuclear power has the disadvantage of giving off radioactive waste to some extent but that is really all that is harmful about it. Over 94% of this waste is low-level waste, possessing no harmful effects of any kind. Only 6% of the total waste is considered high-level waste as it still holds a significant amount of energy. This is either re-used for further power production or is kept in a concealed environment until it loses all its energy and converts into an inert element. As far as emissions are concerned, power produced through Nuclear Energy emits 15 grams of Carbon Dioxide per Kilo-Watt-Hour (kWhr) of electricity. Coal in contrast, produces an immense 900 grams of Carbon Dioxide per kWhr, highest in the category. Furthermore, the estimated mortality rate globally through coal is 100,000 deaths per Trillion kWhr. Oil being second in list, claiming 36,000 lives. Biofuel and Hydroelectric power being third and fourth with 24,000 and 14,000 deaths per Trillion kWhr, respectively. Meanwhile, nuclear power claims fewer than 23 lives per trillion kWhr globally. This is self-explanatory. Besides, virtually every fossil fuel involves a combustion process. This produces gases that are far more brutal than the radiations produced through nuclear power. The second concern of yours is mining. The mining process for oil requires excavating at least 6,000 feet. Uranium, the most common element used in nuclear power, requires about 1,900 feet on average. Natural gas can be as deep as 15,000 feet in some areas. As more Radon gas is given-off as you go deeper down the Earth; this makes Uranium safest to mine. Another reason for fossil fuels being more precarious to mine is the sheer quantity in which they are required. For comparison, it takes 17,000 kg of coal to produce the same amount of energy as 1kg of Uranium-235. This results in much less mining needed which ultimately, results in less radiation exposure. Next is the concern of safety. No doubt that there have been three major nuclear disasters in the past but none of them were as catastrophic as they were portrayed. The worse of them was the Chernobyl incident. Despite the reactors meltdown caused substantial amount of radiation leakage, only two deaths occurred due to radiations. Furthermore, Chernobyl was the result of inadequate experience and a human flaw. It dates back to 1986, when nuclear power was new to the world and there were not much expertise in the field. A like calamity is almost outlandish to happen now. The Three Mile Island reactor meltdown in 1979, was also a human error. It caused no harm to the residents or the workers and no deaths occurred. Additionally, the Fukushima incident was merely a natural disaster as it was struck by an atrocious earthquake followed by a cataclysmic tsunami; although, no deaths occurred due to the radiation leakage. This elucidates that natural disasters can cause catastrophes but the effect would not only be on nuclear facilities. An example is the Sayano-Shushenskaya accident in Russia which caused 75 immediate deaths. A larger incident occurred in 1975 when The Banqiao Reservoir Dam was hit by typhoon, Nina. This caused a stupendous death toll of nearly 171,000 people and displaced another 11 million. Your fourth concern is the security of nuclear facilities. To begin, nuclear plants now are robustly designed and are resilient against even the strongest blows. Furthermore, state-of-art security measures and technology is used to protect the facilities and top-notch counter-terrorism forces and weaponry is provided. All of this is commanded by the federal government itself. Moreover, in an unlikely occasion of an attack, the facilities can shut-down themselves. And even if the Uranium is stolen by any means, it cannot be used to make nukes so simply as it involves extensive enrichment and use of expensive technology. Lastly, you have commented on the expense of nuclear energy. Energy from coal costs 9 cents per kWh and 16 cents per kWh from solar. Nuclear energy meanwhile, costs just 4 cents per kWh. Moreover, solar power hinges-on weather conditions, far more than nuclear energy. In a few hundred words, this is my personal reasoning, of why I believe that a nation should hold onto its nuclear programs and continue developing them. While many people deem it dangerous and unnecessary, I for one, think that it is a need for todays world and living. Yes, I agree that it needs strict, well defined protocols to function and it must stay out of wrong hands, but if done correctly, it is one of the greatest achievements for a nation. Yours sincerely, Abdul Rafay.

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