The Negative Effects Of Nuclear Energy Essay

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The Negative Effects Of Nuclear Energy Essay, Research Paper In 1950, the first commercial nuclear power plants were constructed. The public was promised a non-polluting and resourceful type of energy, but how safe was, and is, nuclear energy? Although there are less than 500 licensed nuclear power plants in the world, many nuclear accidents have already been endangering civilian lives. More serious accidents are not just likely, but inevitable (Fairchild 29). Nuclear energy may appear to be the ideal source of energy for the future: however, there are many negative effects of nuclear energy that can lead to very dangerous situations. Energy has always been among the basic human concerns, along with food and shelter. It takes part in all activities, from walking to the

operation of even the most complicated equipment. Mankind has been faced with the challenge of meeting its energy needs without risking human health and the environment. The many types of energy are mechanical, thermal, chemical, electrical, radiant, and atomic (Microsoft Encarta). In 1987, oil supplied 32% of the energy worldwide. Coal was next in line with 26%, then natural gas with 17%, biomass 15%, and nuclear energy with only 4% (Galperin 19). With the main sources of our energy running low, nations look to new sources to provide our society with power. Nuclear energy, the newest type of energy, was researched to see if it would be the most promising type of energy for the future. Surprisingly, nuclear energy was discovered by accident. In 1896, the French scientist, Antoine

Henri Becquerel, conducted an experiment with uranium salts and found that these salts gave off their own light when exposed to sunlight. Marie and Pierre Curie were fascinated by the possibilities of Becquerel?s rays. The Curies discovered exactly what the rays were and then named the phenomenon radioactivity (Halacy 6). During World War II, many scientists from around the world came to the United States to work on nuclear reactors and weapons. With much success, they continued after World War II and concentrated more on nuclear energy. The scientists instantly saw that nuclear energy would be a great source of power because of the amount of power it released. Splitting an amount of uranium equal to one penny would produce as much energy as seven and a half tons of coal

(Lilienthal 85). A nuclear power plant is where energy is formed when nuclear fission or fusion takes place. So far, however, only the power of fission has been controlled and used for energy. There are many parts of the nuclear power plant, including the reactor, generator, control room, cooling systems, and the electrical, air, and water lines. The heart of the nuclear power plant is its reactor core, which contains a few hundred fuel assemblies. The reactor core is encased in a pressured steel tank with walls several inches thick. In most reactors, this vessel is enclosed in a containment structure. This is a steel-reinforced concrete dome that is about three feet thick and serves as the outermost barrier between the plant and the environment around it. This helps prevent

radiation from escaping the plant (Galperin 42). There are many different types of nuclear reactors, but all the power plants in the United States and more than three-quarters of those worldwide are light-water reactors. There are two types of light-water reactors, which are boiling-water and pressurized-water reactors. Both types use ordinary water as coolant and require enriched uranium (Microsoft Encarta). In boiling-water reactors, cooling water surrounds fuel assemblies. The heat of nuclear fission makes the water boil and the steam produced is carried away from the core to the turbines. Once its work is done, the steam is condensed to water and it returns to the reactor (Galperin 44). The pressurized-water reactor is more commonly used than the boiling-water reactor. This