ESSAY SAMPLE ON "A LOOK AT SOURCES OF NUCLEAR POWER"

Since the days of Franklin and his kite flying experiments, electricity has been a topic of interest for many people and nations. Nuclear power has been a great advance in the field of electrical production in the last fifty years, with it's clean, efficient and cheap production, it has gained a large share of the world's power supply. However with the wealth of safer alternative sources of electricity, the dangers involved with nuclear reactors to humans (ie. cancer) and past disasters such as Chernobyl there are well based reasons not to pursue this energy source. New sources such as fusion power, new studies concerning the health of nuclear by-products and scares of nuclear accidents like those at Chernobyl are slowly rendering Nuclear Fission an obselete energy source. This essay will prove that nuclear power is a dangerous technology and with many other sources and the dangers involved, the disadvantages of nuclear power far outweigh the benefits.

Alternative sources of energy source their way into the highly competitive field of electricity production. With the wealth of sources such as solar, wind, hydro or geothermal the dangers involved with fission could be solved by adopting these newer, safer methods. A main source of energy source lead the way for the near future is solar energy. It is clean efficient and is already a large part of American and Canadian electricity production. "Solar energy source about 6% of the nation's [U.S.A] energy ... the industry is still in an embryonic stage, and opportunity exists for increasing this contribution by ten times from current levels." (Maidique, 92) It is obvious that solar power will become a large part of the electricity production around the world. With future expansion and newer solar cells, the power production could be increased to about 60-70% of the U.S.A's needs.

Cold fusion will most surely be the newest type of energy source into the 21st century, producing energy source cheaper, safer and easier to generate then any existing source. "Fusion fuel releases a million times more energy source burning a comparable weight of coal or oil; one teaspoon of deuterium, obtained cheaply from H20, contains the equivalent of 300 gallons of gasoline; a mere 1000 pounds of deuterium could fuel a 1000-megawatt power station for a year." (Dean, 84) Such spectacular figures sound unbelievable. Using a thousand pounds of a substance to supply a 1000-megawatt power station for a year, such figures will cause plummeting electricity prices and make fission plants far too expensive.

However, prices and efficiency are useless if the safety factor is abandoned. All three topics are dealt with in fusion, that is why it is such a miracle. In fact, a meltdown in a fusion reactor is impossible, which cannot be said for fission. "Compared with fission reactors the absence of such fission products as radioactive iodine and cesium from the fusion cycle reduces the potential hazard by more then a thousand-fold." (Dean, 84) This is accomplished because in a fission reactor the fuel is formed in a solid form which must be cooled by water, and if water is unavailable then a meltdown may occur. In a fusion reactor the fuel is a hot gas rather then a solid. Because of this even with a complete loss of cooling the gas would cool as it hits the cold walls of the reactor chamber. With future resources, some proven like solar others experimental such as fusion, there is a wealth of possible energy source.

However, new sources of energy source reduce the risk of horrific fission disasters such as those at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. Past disasters such as Three Mile Island are well- based reasons to reconsider nuclear technology. At the Chernobyl power station at 1:00 am on April 25, 1996 reactor number 4 was running smoothly. The engineers performed a standard test on the turbo generators (Engine that turns to produce electricity.) At 1:20am the operator turned off the emergency cooling system. "The sharp temperature increase in the reactor core, the rupture of the cooling channels (releasing steam on to the red-hot graphite moderator, producing water gas) and the chemical reaction between overheated zirconium canning and water -- (releasing hydrogen) ignited by the fireworks of flying hot and glowing fragments produced by the steam explosion -- resulted in the explosion." (Trainer, 116) As the two huge steam explosions tore the core apart, the force of the blast lifted the thousand ton cover lid above the core. Lethal radiation was being released into the air. The explosion gave of more radiation then two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The accident is an awful reminder that and explosion may not be only a freak occurrence. It so happens that it may be caused by other errors such as human blunder, low water supply or computer glitch, any misfunction may cause horrific problems.

The Ukraine poisoned western Russia and almost all of Europe with the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl. Within the first six days, radiation swept across Europe. Radiation levels were higher as far west as Paris. Many people were infected with cancer or radiation poisoning. "It was predicted that over 21,000 people of the region's infected would die within 50 years from direct cause of the explosion, however total death will range to around 100,000 within fifty years." (Megaw, 87) Not only is the original explosion deadly, but the insuing radiation can leave an area useless, killing or poisoning many plants, animals and humans. With a half-life (half-life is the period of time during which half of the nuclei in a quantity of radioactive material undergo decay) of millions of years the land will suffer for a period of equal time, as will humans.

The explosion at Three Mile Island was a shock to people who said an accident could never happen in the U.S.A. Three Mile Island was located on an island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River. At around 4am on March 28, 1979, an accident involving reactor number 2 occurred at Three Mile Island. Although Public health was not so much threatened, an inquiry done revealed such operator incompetence that it affected the whole of American Policy on Nuclear Power. When a water pressurizer, designed to keep water at a 325oC burst causing insufficient cooling. Due to this some nuclear waste from the station had to be vented to reduce steam. This was done successfully and the hazard was controlled. "Ground level gamma dose rated at the site boundary reached levels of 25 millirem per hour during the morning, as compared to the regular 0.2 millirem per hour measured regularly." (Zipko, 90) Since the accident the American Nuclear Council (ANC) as well as many other countries have installed a second emergency pressurizer, it is feared however that in an extreme water pressurizer burst the emergency reaction system would not activate. The workers at Three Mile Island, were lucky. Although never in risk of a core meltdown, as in Chernobyl, a more serious water leak could have caused instability and may have called for much more venting then occurred. More venting may have caused incurable pollution to the surrounding area. The accident that occurred on Three Mile Island proves that a nuclear accident does not only occur in the "safety impaired" Russian reactors.

Nuclear power is on whole a clean and efficient source of power, however the aftereffects of already used materials are much more deadly then the process of fission itself. There are many issues brought to life by nuclear fission reactors, probably the most important is its detrimental effect on humans, plants and animals. It has been known for many years the nuclear waste causes many sicknesses including cancer. This effect however, does not form during the process of fission itself. Rather it is a slow release of poisonous radioactive waste into the environment over periods up to 7 billion years. In small quantities, the body can absorb radioactive waste, but with ever- growing share of world power production being fission based it may be responsible for a dramatic rise in cancer since the dawn of the nuclear age. Some "scientists believe that nuclear industry by the year 2000 could increase the level of radiation by up to 3 percent, which would add about 7000 fatal cancers per year to a world population of 4 billion." (Kaku, 82) Considering 7000 deaths out of 4 billion people, it seems like a very high price to pay for what can be currently done safely. Even coal, a very dirty fuel does not contribute to cancer as much as radioactive waste produced by fission. In fact, a child living in close proximity to a fission reactor is fifty times as likely of forming a type of cancer such as leukemia or glaucoma, as opposed to one living close to a coal burning power plant. These numbers are blinding, coal power produces many more immediate deaths due to illnesses such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. These sicknesses do occur and should be looked at, (in another essay) however they cannot be compared to a serious disease such as cancer, which may be passed genetically and for which there is no immediate cure. "She [a mother] probably is very unhappy to learn that her child living near a fission power plant is at a 0.5 percent chance of dying of cancer over a periodic exposure." (Taylor, 155) A 0.5 percent exposure is equal to a 1 in 200 chance of developing the disease. The thought of a nuclear power reactor located near a large city such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (site of Three Mile Island) where the exposure is released to thousands of people is unthinkable but does occur due to company profit needs.

Radiation is not only spread through the air we breathe. It is also passed from plants we eat and water we drink. In areas such as Chernobyl that have had even the mildest nuclear problems (obviously Chernobyl was not a mild problem) we see an area in diameter around Chernobyl reaching as far as Kiev (400km) to have plants that are permanently inedible due to enormous radiation levels. Unfortunately the radiation is not in the plants, it is in the soil, a layer of soil that will spread harmful radiation for the next 7 billion years. These plants should not be eaten, however many poor families have no choice and may not be aware they are poisoning themselves. Neither the animals nor the people eating them know that they are being poisoned. It is more surprising that areas in the U.S.A have to measured with abnormally higher radiation, it must be mentioned these areas are located in relatively close proximity to a fission power plant. In addition, "wind and rain erosion wash nuclear waste into streams and rivers, poisoning the waters, killing the fish and eventually threatening humans throughout the water they drink." (Kronenwetter, 48) The passage of nuclear waste directly from the power plant to the soil, (which poisons plants) run- offs from the land which go into the water affecting both the poisoned water we drink and the contaminated food we eat, not to mention the air that we breathe. These are scary facts that must no longer be overlooked in the name of profit. Nuclear power is a major pollutant and must be recognized as one.

In the 1990's we have many alternatives to Nuclear Power. Solar, wind, hydro and geothermal are all great sources that should be used to limit the use of nuclear power. Although nuclear power on the whole is a clean and efficient, it has many unnecessary drawbacks such as the waste it produces, this will continue to poison humans, plants and animals. With all the choices available to people, why not choose a clean or renewable source of energy, one without the dangers of radioactive waste and possible core meltdowns. New sources can already today replace fission power, it is unsafe, unwarranted and pointless to peruse something that can literally blow up in out face and kill us. In the future use of solar or wind
This article originally appeared on http://www.essaysample.com/essay/000179.html

ESSAY SAMPLE ON "A LOOK AT SOURCES OF NUCLEAR POWER" 7.7 of 10 on the basis of 3459 Review.