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Nuclear Plants and Their Impact on the Environment - Essay Example

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In the paper “Nuclear Plants and Their Impact on the Environment” the author analyzes "catastrophic risk" of nuclear waste, when containment fails. Failure in containment can emanate from over-heated fuels melting and releasing huge quantities of fission products into the environment.
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Nuclear Plants and Their Impact on the Environment
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Download file to see previous pages Accidents from nuclear reactors in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to end to the initial rapid growth in nuclear power capacity. These comprised the 1979 Three Mile Island accident (USA) and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (Ukraine) (Cracolice & Peters, 1997). In 2011, a hard-hitting tsunami led the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to leak, resulting in hydrogen gas explosions and partial meltdowns. In order to caution the immediate populations from the adverse effects of the disasters, the Ukraine government enacted a 30 kilometers no-settlement policy around the Chernobyl power plant while the Japanese government implemented a 20 kilometers cautionary zone around the Fukushima I plant (Hoeve & Jacobson, 2012; Bennett, Bouville, Hall, Savkin & Storm, 2000).Radioactive DecayUsed up nuclear fuel from uranium-235 and plutonium-239 nuclear fission contains more than 100 carcinogenic radionuclide isotopes such as strontium-90, iodine-131 and caesium-137, and includes some of the most long-lived transuranic elements such as americium-241 and isotopes of plutonium. Disposal of these wastes in engineered facilities, or repositories, located deep underground in suitable geologic formations is currently the best disposal solution fronted (Cracolice & Peters, 1997).Nuclear Accidents and ConcernsDebate over the reliability, durability and quality maintenance of old nuclear installations has emerged following leakage of radioactive water in over twenty US nuclear power plants. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that emits a low-energy beta particle. It may be present in water emanating from a nuclear plant (Casas et al, 2004; Cracolice & Peters, 1997). The main concern over tritium is the high possibility of its entry into drinking water, in addition to the subsequent presence in crops that depend on tritium-contaminated waters. Uranium is mainly mined for use in nuclear power plants. The 1979 Church Rock uranium mill spill in New Mexico led to the flow of over 1,000 tons. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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