Impacts of nuclear power

Impacts of nuclear power

Nuclear power generation is perhaps the most widely talked about future source of energy. This is to some extent due to the fact that once a nuclear power plant is constructed and operating, it can reliably produce cheap electricity for years. Nonetheless nuclear power production is surrounded by many hazards ranging from natural to man-made.

Flooding is one natural disaster whose impact cannot be whisked away. When flooding occurs in nuclear power plants, extensive leakages can occur in reactor rooms as well as in the turbines. Flowing waters may encounter radiological contaminations that can be spread to other grounds away from the plant. The risks associated with such a scenario would include exposure of human beings and other animals to cancer causing radioactivity. Since it might prove difficult to evade flooding regulations should be put in place restricting areas where nuclear plants can be established. This should happen to cushion the population from possible radioactive contaminations.

Despite nuclear plants being built with utmost caution and care we cannot rule out possibilities of rupture of turbines in the plants. In such occasions radioactivity releases become a reality. Mitigating ruptures in a power plant can only be assured by using material and equipment of the highest quality standards. Inspection programs can be put in place that may employ X-ray, visual and ultrasonic techniques which can greatly improve leak-detection. There should also be emergency cooling systems in cases where water cooling fails or is involved in the rupture.

Operators in a nuclear power plant can make errors that would turn out to be very costly in damages. Some decisions during performance can be influenced by many psychological factors. Errors could emanate from clumsiness, inaccurate interpretation of events and forgetfulness are among the human factors that can be fatal. The results of these errors can vary from leaving valves open when they are supposed to be closed and overlooking cracks in turbines. During recruitment, labor should be rigorously and competently recruited and their reliability assessed.

In general nuclear energy regulatory agency should take it upon itself to constantly inspect running nuclear factories. Based on their assessments they should recommend plants whose operations are not posing imminent hazards to the public. Legislations should also be passed controlling nuclear energy production.

The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003) (page 74) (Nuclear Power plants) http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/Physical_Strategy.pdf

US nuclear plants vulnerable to 9/11-style terrorist attacks – report, RT.com, (2013, August 16) http://rt.com/usa/us-nuclear-terrorism-report-572/   The report, prepared by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas, (2013, Aug. 15) is an option to read here http://sites.utexas.edu/nppp/files/2013/08/NPPP-working-paper-1-2013-Aug-15.pdf

 

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