The Future Looks Bright For Japan Essay

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The Future Looks Bright For Japan Essay, Research Paper The Future Looks Bright for Japan Over the past 40 years nuclear energy has gone from being the energy source of the future to the energy source that everyone fears. The world has faced 20 plus nuclear accidents since testing began in the 1950 s ( Three of the four most disastrous nuclear accidents have occurred in the past twenty years. Theoretically, nuclear fission(1) is an excellent means to generate electricity; however, fission s history of accidents has shown it to be too risky to the environment. Countries are beginning to turn away from nuclear energy and rely more on alternative renewable energy sources and new sources of fossil fuels. THREE MILE ISLAND In 1979 there was a nuclear accident

near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. No one was killed, radiation did not escape the plant, however, the reactor suffered a partial meltdown of the fuel rods, creating fears of a China Syndrome (2) disaster. This fear was exacerbated by the movie “China Syndrome” that was coincidentally making the theater circuits. Leaking water severely damaged the nuclear fuel core in a reactor, which caused radioactive gas to be released in the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant. Over 30,000 residents resided within five miles of the Three Mile Island. Fortunately all radiation was contained within the nuclear power plant and there were no environmental or health effects caused by the escape of hydrogen gas. CHERNOBYL The1986 accident in the

Ukraine at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant opened everyone s eyes to the extreme dangers and potentially catastrophic consequences of nuclear accidents. Years of destruction and suffering occurred from the nuclear fallout at Chernobyl. It is the worst nuclear accident the world has ever experienced. People and governments around the world are concerned that another serious accident is only a matter of time. At any moment another nuclear power plant could kill thousands. Chernobyl was a result of a reactor design that was not properly operated. The nuclear release occurred while shutting off the power for turbine testing. The reactors were known to be unstable at low levels of power. Two explosions caused the graphite moderator to catch fire, burning for 9 days and releasing all

the nuclear power plant s Xenon, half the iodine and cesium and 3-5% of all remaining radioactive material. The radioactive dust particle was carried by wind throughout bordering Ukrainian countries. Results were extensive. 31 people died, 185,000 people received more than 20 mSv(3) of radiation between 1986-89. Over 700 cases of thyroid cancer have been reported and there have been huge environmental effects among wildlife and plants. Chernobyl has 3 out 4 reactors still operating. TOKAI MURA Just recently, Japan, the fourth largest energy-demanding country in the world, experienced a nuclear accident at a fuel reprocessing plant(4) in Tokai Mura. It is only one of the fuel reprocessing plants for the 12 nuclear power plants in Japan. On September 30, 1999, fission products were

released at a small fuel reprocessing power plant in Tokai Mura, Japan. Incredibly, residential housing was located less than 200 meters adjacent to the fuel reprocessing plant! The plant was known to be unsafe long before the accident. There was 16,000 times the normal amount of radiation released into the environment. Sixty-nine workers, three firemen, and seven area residents received elevated doses of radiation. Three men were hospitalized for an excess dose of radiation. It is estimated that the hospitalized patients received up to 20,000 mSv (milliSieverts)(3). As much as 100 mSv of radiation was released as far as 100 m away from the reprocessing power plant. High gamma readings around the fuel reprocessing plant fell to zero 20 hours after the original release. Strontium,