Table of Contents
The nuclear sector seeks to restore itself by influencing the public’s concern regarding global warming and energy uncertainty to encourage nuclear power as clean and safe technique to control releases of greenhouse gasses (Suppes and Storvick 48). In spite of these efforts by industry proponents, a comprehensive assessment of the entire life-cycle of nuclear power production reveals nuclear energy to be a dirty, unsafe and costly form of energy that poses solemn threats to the environment (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 19). Every year, numerous amounts of radioactive waste are produced during nuclear fuel process. This paper will argue for an end to the development of new nuclear production facilities due to the negative effects arising from its production, storage, and disposal of radioactive waste.
In the United States alone, approximately two thousand metric tons of radioactive waste have been produced over the recent years (Tabak 30). Uranium is a component that is used in the production of nuclear power. This element has to be obtained from the ground to be utilized in the fuel reactors. Nevertheless, uranium mining poses grave threats to the environment. The generation of one thousand tons of this element produces nearly one hundred thousand tons of radioactive tailings and approximately one million gallons of liquid waste comprising heavy metals and arsenic besides radiation (Wit, Poneman, and Gallucci 72). Recent research aiming at mining uranium in an environmentally friendly manner has not been entirely satisfactory. Despite the benefit of not generating tailings, this method contaminates groundwater supplies. Regardless of the proponents argument that it is safe, the history of nuclear energy is signified by numerous disasters and incidences that almost resulted in severe catastrophes. This is exemplified by the Chernobyl disaster that occurred in 1986 (Woods and Woods 89). This accident led to the displacement of over two hundred and twenty-two thousand people. The environmental impact caused there was apparent. Over four thousand square kilometers of agricultural land and six thousand kilometers of forests in Belarus became unusable (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 46).
In 1979, America experienced a disaster after an accident at a nuclear reactor (Suppes and Storvick 89). Even though the immediate fatalities from this incident were minimal, it caused adverse effects on the surrounding environment. Moreover, nuclear production is susceptible to climate change. This is because the latter may intensify the risk of nuclear accidents which will in turn cause the environmental problems. For instance, heat waves that are anticipated to become more apparent due to global warming may compel the closure of reactors (Tabak 17). This scenario is exemplified in Michigan, Illinois, France, and Germany. These waves caused cooling issues at the reactors and created a situation where the governments could not guarantee the safety of the citizens.
Countries that produce nuclear power should reduce its production by seeking other alternative sources of power like solar energy because the ill effects of nuclear power generation have not been fully addressed yet.
Nevertheless, this claim can be argued by opponents to be inefficient since the reduction of nuclear energy would mean that the countries will not have sufficient power to conduct their industrial and domestic applications (Wit, Poneman, and Gallucci 58). Nowadays, the majority of the industries require adequate energy. In fact, all stages of production require energy. As a result, the amount of energy needed by firms in these countries is considerably huge. The method proposed by the claim may fail to provide the power needed by the industries. Consequently, the production process of many industries will not go on as planned. The industries will thus fail to produce the products to meet the demands of the market. The trade taking place will thus reduce and the economy of the countries will be negatively affected (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 23). Moreover, the ill effects of nuclear production have been addressed by the introduction of favorable mining and disposal methods. For instance, regulatory bodies have launched the ways for disposing of high, medium, and low nuclear waste. Thus, when nuclear-producing countries adhere to the safety measures, there would be no disaster occurring from the generation of nuclear power (Suppes and Storvick 48).
Nevertheless, these claims presented by the opposition can be eventually countered. Solar energy can be captured and stored to be used by industries. The recent climate change has caused a situation where the amount of solar energy received has dramatically increased. This fact can be utilized to an advantage by the countries producing solar energy. For instance, the industries in these countries can purchase equipment that can store a significant amount of solar energy. During hot weather, this equipment will save the vast amounts of solar to be used by the companies. By doing so, the operating cost of the businesses will reduce. As a result, the price of the final products will also be lower which would ensure that numerous clients can afford the products. Therefore, the trade taking place will increase, and the economic growth of the country will improve (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 19). Despite the safety methods, the evidence recorded in history prove otherwise. Disasters have occurred even in countries like the United States that employ supreme security measures (Woods and Woods 59). Moreover, the new mining methods that are introduced by engineers have side effects. For instance, the recent attempt to improve the mining of uranium came with a side effect of contamination of ground water. hus, the safety of the environment cannot be guaranteed by the government or any nuclear generation regulatory body. Considerably, the argument on the safety of nuclear generation and maintenance is not valid. Even though the other sources of energy are exposed to risks, the risk involved is not as huge as the one involved in nuclear power generation (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 19).
The methods of disposal of nuclear waste do not guarantee that the environment is safe from the harmful effects. Conventionally, the disposal of nuclear waste involves the waste being stored in steel containers. These containers are subsequently placed in strong concrete cylinders. These layers protect the environment from the waste for many years (Suppes and Storvick 17). However, this method of storage is faced by an inconvenient nature of radioactive substances. The radioactive materials have a long half-life. Thus, they continue to be radioactive for numerous years even when they are stored in the protected containers (Tabak 80). Many countries have not yet designed a unique location that is protected from illegal access by intruders. Hence, people with malicious intents like terrorists may obtain the products while they are still radioactive and use them to cause harm to people and the environment.
The disposal of nuclear waste may cause a big threat to animal and plant life (Wit, Poneman, and Gallucci 72). Even though the majority of these residues are sealed in protective containers, accidents may occur, and the waste may spill into oceans and on the ground surface. These waste will result in the death of numerous plant and animal species that will cause an ecological imbalance (Woods and Woods 11). The major weakness of this method is insufficient energy to serve the requirements of all the industrial and domestic applications. This weakness can be countered by investing in equipment that has higher storage capacity. This will ensure that an organization employing solar energy has sufficient power to run the machines. Moreover, solar energy can be used as a complement of hydroelectric power. This means that the industries will not rely on solar energy entirely to run all their operations. When utilized in this way, solar energy will have many benefits to businesses and the environment (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 19).
Regulations should be laid to prevent new facilities of nuclear production from beginning operations by establishing strict protocols in dealing with the energy, because terrorists can use the power to build bombs that will have adverse effects on the environment.
Opponents may claim that the new facilities of nuclear production are necessary to increase the amount of energy that is available in their respective countries. Moreover, numerous countries have established strict measures in dealing with terrorism. Therefore, even in the worst-case scenario where the terrorists obtain the nuclear bombs, they will not be able to use them on the population (Suppes and Storvick 18).
However, regulation of terrorist activities is a very intricate process. Even in the most developed countries, various instances of terrorism have been witnessed. Thus, reducing the amount of nuclear power available would diminish the impact of terrorist activities (Tabak 69). Moreover, only developed countries have well-established methods of preventing terrorism. Contrary to that, developing countries are at a greater risk of terrorism activities. Also, terrorists can target organizations of developed countries that are located in developing countries. This case was witnessed in Nairobi, Kenya, where terrorists bombed the embassy of the United States. Thus, the argument that developed countries cannot be affected by terrorism due to their efficient structures in detecting terrorism is not entirely valid (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 89).
Therefore, the introduction of new facilities should be stopped as it would lower the ammunition that terrorists can obtain to bomb various countries. Moreover, the impact on the environment from a terrorist activity is enormous. For example, numerous buildings collapse, electrical lines fall, and agricultural land is disturbed. The fertility of the land is negatively affected, and countries that are victims of bombs may thus fail to produce enough food to meet the needs of the population (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 27). The major weakness facing this claim is that the regulation of terrorists involves intelligence that is not accounted for by nuclear production. Advancing technology poses two major issues in this argument. First, the terrorists may use other techniques to create bombs, or they may exploit the loopholes in the current technological systems to conduct illegal activities. Hence, countries need to undertake regular research that identifies the areas that can be used by terrorists to bomb the places (Suppes and Storvick 89).
New energy facilities for producing nuclear energy should be stopped by setting measures such as denial of financial aid to countries that continue with the production because nuclear power is costly and risky.
Opponents may argue that all energy sources have associated risks. For instance, hydro-electric power also comes with significant risks that the production companies must address. Therefore, the risky nature of nuclear power generation cannot form a basis of stopping nuclear power generation (Suppes and Storvick 28). Moreover, denying countries financial aid, because they are involved in the production of nuclear energy, is an infringement of fundamental rights. Denying these countries financial aid will hurt the ordinary peopple that are not involved in policymaking. Consequently, international organizations such that deal with human rights will clash with organizations offering financial support. Proponents may argue that even though nuclear production is an expensive venture, only the startup costs are costly (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 19). This is because nuclear power will produce vast amounts of energy that can be utilized for an extended period. Hence, over time, the cost incurred from the production of nuclear is almost similar to the one incurred by other sources of energy such as hydroelectric power.
Nevertheless, numerous countries do not heed to requests by the United States and other international organizations to cease the production of nuclear power (Suppes and Storvick 68). Therefore, stern actions have to be taken against these countries to ensure that they stop nuclear power generation. Even though some countries may be producing nuclear energy to satisfy their energy requirements, numerous countries engage in the production with malicious intentions. For instance, various countries want to gain a military advantage over their adversaries and use this advantage to bully other nations (Wit, Poneman, and Gallucci 72). This scenario has been witnessed in North Korea where the country has regularly threatened South Korea due to its nuclear power advantage. As a matter of fact, if not for the United States intervention, South Korea would face numerous harassment from North Korea. Thus, stern measures like the denial of financial aid and banning the country from international trade may be necessary to protect the vulnerable countries.
The argument of nuclear energy being cost-effective is completely misplaced. This is because the accompanied costs of dealing with the production of nuclear are sufficiently large. For instance, when nuclear accidents such spills occur, the process involved to clean the environment is very costly (Woods and Woods 66). Also, the equipment needed to store and transport radioactive materials are quite expensive. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, it may take much time for the environment to be cleaned. As a matter of fact, plants may begin growing after a long period of time. From an economic perspective, it is unreasonable to engage in the production of a service that is highly risky and expensive. This is because a return on investments may not be achieved. Moreover, the capital utilized in the production of this energy may be used for alternative sources of energy that will provide sufficient energy while not causing any harm to the environment (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 27). Since America is the primary country that controls financial aid, countries engaging in the production of nuclear power can turn to other healthy economies for financial support and trade. For instance, many countries may turn to China since the country offers financial help with fewer restrictions as compared to the United States. This fact poses a weakness in using this method. Thus, other sufficient regulations like dialog should be engaged to stop the inception of new facilities.
The evidence contained in history is enough proof necessitating action on nuclear power generation. Several countries that have the capacity of production have begun the production. Nevertheless, from the arguments contained above, the applicable authorities should induce the measures that ban new facilities from being created. This move will go a long way in guaranteeing that the environment is safe from contamination of radioactive waste. The adverse effect on the environment can last for numerous years. As a result, the future environment will suffer the consequences of the actions of the current generation. To prevent this scenario from occurring, various measures should be undertaken. First, people can be trained on how to conserve the energy using simple processes such as switching off the lights when not in use. These energy reduction methods will lower the energy requirements in homes.
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As a result, the countries would not require a large amount of energy. Also, the pertinent authorities should ensure that the electrical equipment being produced by industries meet the energy standards. This action would guarantee a significant reduction in the energy requirements. The saved energy can subsequently be utilized for industries that require a considerable amount of energy. These measures are vital since the environment comprising animal and plant life are at stake. When sufficient measures are not taken to lower the energy requirements and conserve the energy, countries with the capacity of producing nuclear will be motivated to launch nuclear facilities despite the harmful effects that may result from the process. However, when the states lower their energy requirements, there would be less incentive to engage in nuclear production as the existing energy sources would be sufficient for the respective countries.
International organizations can compel the countries to stop the production of new facilities. For the countries that have already begun production, plans can be made to stop in pilot phases. This plan will involve the countries stopping one production facility at a time and assessing the impact on the industries. Any weaknesses noticed is corrected when another power facility is closed. This action will help a country monitor the precise energy requirements before terminating operations of a nuclear production facility. Thus, before closing a plant, a state makes sure that the other sources of energy have the capacity to cater for the closed production facilities.
Countries can also undertake research to establish new ways of guaranteeing the safety of nuclear power production and disposal. When this move has been achieved, a strict regulatory body should be set to monitor the safety procedures of various production plants. Only then can the introduction of new nuclear production facilities be considered.