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Nuclear Power Problems
The effects caused by a nuclear power accident, on the scale of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl
accident, must override any inclination to side with advocates for nuclear power. Surely we have all heard
the expression “I’m only human”. If we are indeed only human, and consequently prone to error, we could
never perfectly manage and contain an energy as potentially destructive as that of nuclear power, without the
possibility of a nuclear accident. Furthermore, the wastes generated by nuclear power, when inadvertently
released during a nuclear power accident, have been proven to cause malignant diseases and premature
death to those who come into contact with them. Additionally, the vegetation threat we rely on for survival is
severely affected when radioactive elements are released into the air and water supply during a nuclear
accident. Most alarming, however, is the fact that the general public is vastly unaware of its governments’
use of nuclear waste in the development of nuclear weapon. Most of us can remember the bombing of Iwo
Jima and the effects the bomb had on the lives of the millions of Japanese that lived within a twenty mile
radius of the city. We can see what happened to the second generation: children born with severe
informities such as sixteen fingers and three arms; children born with cancer; and children with mental and
physical handicaps. The radiation of a bomb doesn’t always cause instant death, but it is a lingering
experience. Japanese people, thought to be healthy, got cancer in later life, and had dis-formed children.
Consequently, we must not be swayed by advocates urging us to further develop and expand nuclear power.
We must, instead, examine the larger picture; the risks associated with this potentially devastating power.
The potential for human error causing a nuclear accident can be ascertained by considering the
causes and effects of accidents that have already occurred.
In 1952, at Chalk River’s Nuclear Reactor, four control pads were unintentionally removed, causing a
partial meltdown of the reactor’s core.
In 1957, a fire at the Windscale Pile No. 1 plant, just north of Liverpool, England, resulted in the
contamination of 200 square miles of countryside when it was covered with radiation.
In 1976, the core of the Lubmin nuclear plant in Greifswald, East Germany nearly melted down when
safety systems failed during a fire.
In 1979, the ever so famous, Three Mile Island reactor in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania lost coolant in one of
its two reactors and a partial meltdown occurred on March 28, 1979. “Large amounts of radioactive
noble gases were released to the containment atmosphere. Some of these were released into the
environment” (The Three). The resulting contamination led to a very expensive ten-year clean up plan.
“The first re-entry of the building took place in July of 1980” (TIP 10).
Still, nothing compares to the tragic accident at the Soviet’s Chernobyl power plant in 1986. “The
accident which immediately killed three hundred and twenty one persons, caused about 130,000 cases
of irradiation and led to the displacement of hundred of individuals” (Fragelada). The post Chernobyl
brain syndrome arose because of the high amounts of radiation. “In the city of Gomel, Belarus, near the
Chernobyl power plant, a survey revealed that out of fifteen hundreds of children, only twenty-four were
in good health” (Chernobyl). The Belarus children keep eating the contaminated food. “The Chernobyl
plant did not have the massive containment structure common to most nuclear power plants elsewhere in
the world” (The Chernobyl Accident).
The costs associated with nuclear power are of paramount concern. When compared to coal, gas,
and oil in 1997, only coal was cheaper than nuclear power. It would appear to the general public, that nuclear
power is a bargain deal. Few people, however, take into account the fact that bargain-deals often cost the
consumer more in their long-term values. The costs resulting from nuclear accidents are seldom taken
fully into account. First of all, the scientists, researchers, technicians, and workers who must assess the
accidents and initiate clean-up operations, must be compensated. Instruments, tools, and machinery must be
bought and transported to the accident site to enable the clean-up. Storage containers for the radioactive
waste must be constructed. Doctors and hospitals must be made available for the diagnosis and treatment of
the victims. Even those who sustained lower doses of radiation must be monitored. Pregnant women must
be monitored for both their incidence of spontaneous abortion [mis-carriage] as well as congenial defects in
their offspring. Children must be monitored for possible future thyroid tumors as
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Nuclear technology, Radioactivity, Pripyat, Energy conversion, Nuclear power, Nuclear and radiation accidents and incidents, Chernobyl disaster, Radioactive waste, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Nuclear reactor, Nuclear power debate, Environmental impact of nuclear power
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