For quite some time, countries all over the world have been aware of the capacity for nuclear energy to meet the world’s energy requirements. While there has been acceptance at one end towards the idea of making nuclear power our primary energy source, there has also been repudiation at the other. These concerns are in no way inconsequential and should be given the due recognition that they deserve.
Firstly, it is a known fact that nuclear energy is generated through nuclear fission of radioactive materials in a nuclear reactor. The radiations from these reactions are highly hazardous and coming into contact with them can have an impact on many generations to come. For instance, people who are exposed to these radiations may experience physical, mental and even genetic changes. These changes in their genes are even transmitted to their children in some cases, causing them to be born with some congenital defects and disorders. One can hardly ever forget the nuclear plant explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine that destroyed the soil and water around that region and claimed numerous lives.
Some people also argue that the cost of nuclear power production is extremely high. Building a nuclear plant is an enormously expensive task. For instance, the nuclear reactor itself should be properly reinforced to prevent radiation leakage. The fuel rods, the coolant, the moderator and most of the other components are priced high. Regular maintenance costs should also be put in to keep the plant emission free.
Nuclear Waste Disposal Problem
The other main problem associated with the use of nuclear energy is the problem of nuclear waste disposal. Nuclear reactors dispersed throughout many countries of the world produce a considerable amount of nuclear wastes every year. At present, most of these wastes are being dumped into the oceans, seas or other inland cooling ponds in sealed containers. The fact of the matter is that these containers are not as emission-free as they are claimed to be. In order to avoid making the containers too bulky and expensive, most of them are made to a slightly reduced size. This makes it certain that there will at least be some radioactive emissions from these containers, no matter how negligible they may be. Radioactive emissions from these containers are accounting for the destruction of marine flora and fauna in many oceans of the world.
Manufacture Of Nuclear Weapons
However, another concern regarding nuclear wastes is causing a great anxiety at present. Spent nuclear fuel or nuclear wastes can be reprocessed into higher unstable radioactive compounds, which can then be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. If the countries with such intentions are left unchecked, they could very well build a wide range of nuclear weapons from the reprocessed wastes. This is the reason why all nuclear energy producing countries are being asked to place their nuclear plants under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
Hence, nuclear energy is undoubtedly beneficial to humanity considering the depletion of fossil fuel reserves that we will face in a few years. But all this is only possible if concrete steps are taken to prevent the misuse of nuclear fuel.