Is nuclear energy safe enough?

Digamber Eslampure | Collegio Writer

The demand for energy has been increasing consistently, and it will only get greater. But natural energy resources such as coal, water and oil are rapidly being depleted and can no longer meet the demand, forcing nations to search for alternative energy resources.

Nuclear energy gave hope for future energy production, but some incidents forced us to fundamentally rethink using it. Nuclear energy currently provides only 6 percent of the energy used.

The debate about nuclear energy safety gained momentum in recent years, especially after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011. There have been other nuclear power plant accidents in the past. The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 claimed 34 lives directly and victimized many more in the long term.

The long-term effects include cancer and deformities in humans and other animals exposed to the radiation. These are still affecting lives and will for generations.

The Fukushima disaster demonstrated once more the grievous consequences of nuclear accidents. Nearly 30 countries use nuclear power, but Japan recently announced its plan to phase out nuclear energy by the year of 2030. Germany and Switzerland are also phasing out their nuclear power.

On the other hand, countries such as China, India and South Korea are pursuing ambitious growth in nuclear power production. These countries are building more nuclear plants to meet their energy needs.

The world is divided into two groups on the usage of this energy. Those for nuclear energy say that it is clean, sustainable and reduces carbon emissions, so they pin their future energy hopes on it.

In contrast, the nations against nuclear energy say it poses a threat to human beings and the environment. The greatest danger is radiation, which produces mutations in living organisms that can result in deformities and disabilities. They believe there are multiple threats from nuclear energy and that these threats outweigh the benefits. Their primary concern is security.

The waste products from the creation of nuclear energy pose a threat as well. These contain large amounts of radioactive elements, which require a good deal of money to process and convert into less radioactive compounds.

This waste has been dumped into the oceans, one of the reasons there is so much marine pollution. These toxic substances pose a great threat to the marine flora and fauna.

There is also a chance that some nations will convert these waste products into nuclear weapons, posing a threat to future peace. The nuclear plants themselves may become vulnerable to military attacks, and terrorism may gain ground because of the proliferation of radioactive elements.

Public anger is another concern hindering the development of nuclear energy. Environmental groups are stage protests and demonstrations to discourage nuclear energy.

The production of nuclear energy is capital intensive, requiring millions of dollars. It is also a tedious process, requiring much time and advanced technology.

The nations for nuclear energy believe that it is sustainable and a viable option for future energy security. They also believe that if they want to achieve energy independence then they must invest in nuclear energy. Developing countries are struggling to keep up with rising energy demand, and many fail to meet it. This gap between supply and demand may prompt them to take risks and use nuclear energy to
meet the excess demand.

We need to search for different energy sources instead of depleting natural resources, but the new energy source should not destroy our environment or jeopardize lives. This energy should not be used for evil purposes. If we allow this potential energy to create bombs and other destructive weapons, then we are undeniably asking for trouble in the future. So nations that are providing support in building these complex nuclear reactors should be careful about their clients.

Nations that are pinning their hopes on nuclear energy should rethink whether this type of energy suits the needs of their people.

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