Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy

Pros
Good Energy Output
  • The energy produced in nuclear fission of fissionable material like Uranium-235, is 10 million times the energy obtained by burning same mass of coal!
  • It is possible to generate a high amount of electrical energy in one single plant.
external image 3MileIsland.jpg

· http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/3MileIsland.jpg

Low Emission Levels
  • Nuclear fission leads to almost zero greenhouse gas emission. So compared to conventional energy sources, nuclear fission is very clean!
  • The soft coal, which many power plants burn contains sulfur, when the gaseous byproducts are absorbed in clouds, precipitation becomes sulfuric acid. Coal also contains radioactive material. A coal-fired power plant emits more radiation into the air than a nuclear power plant.
  • The world's reserves of fossil fuels are running out. The sulfurous coal which many plants use is more polluting than the coal that was previously used.

external image three-mile-island..jpg

· http://www.allhotusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/three-mile-island..jpg


Reliable Energy Source
  • Nuclear power plants need little fuel, so they are less vulnerable to shortages because of strikes or natural disasters.
  • Nuclear energy is a comparatively reliable energy resource, unaffected by strikes and shortages around the world, as very little is required at a time and its well distributed around the world
  • Coal burning leaves ashes that will increase future radon exposures. The estimates of radon show that it is safer to use nuclear fuel than burn coal. Mining of the fuel required to operate a nuclear plant for one year will avert a few hundred deaths, while the ashes from a coal-burning plant will cause 300 deaths.
  • This technology is readily available; it does not have to be developed first.

external image History-Of-Three-Mile-Island-Accident.jpg

· http://www.globalpearl.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/History-Of-Three-Mile-Island-Accident.jpg


Cons
  • In the case of nuclear energy, fuel is both radioactive and fissionable, which poses as a problem when it comes to waste storage
Environment
  • Nuclear waste is radioactive for thousands of years.
    • A solution to this problem is called reprocessing. Reprocessing is a technique in which the fissionable materials of nuclear waste are removed. The problem with this method is that weapons grade plutonium can be obtained in the process.Due to the fact that the fissionable materials in nuclear fuel have large half-lives, a lot of time and money must go into them being disposed away from civilization.
    • external image yucca-mountain2.gif
http://planetsave.com/2008/02/23/beginning-of-the-end-for-yucca-mountain-or-the-beginning-of-interim-nuclear-waste-management/
Health
  • If a nuclear power plant meltdown was to occur or it the disposal of the nuclear wastes is not handled correctly, the exposure of radiation to humans can occur.
    • Once a person is exposed to contamination there are a variety of ways in which the radiation can affect the human body.
    • Major effects of exposure to radiation include cancer, radiation sickness, and genetic mutation.
    • Contamination can occur in the drinking water, ground water, crops and the animals that we use for food.

external image Japan_Nuclear_Reactor_Meltdown_fallout.jpg
http://thedesimag.com/2011/03/14/horrific-nuclear-scenario-in-japan/
Safety
  • Nuclear energy can also pose as a problem for National Security.
    • A nuclear energy program can very easily be turned into a nuclear weapons program, due to how easy it would be to obtain plutonium which is primarily used to create nuclear warheads.
    • Due to the fact that a radiation leakage can affect a large area of land, such power plants and places of waste storage can become targets to other hostile nations who wish to create an attack.