Introduction to what extent” (Grendon 1972). Nuclear development
Introduction Mark Z Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and a director of its Atmosphere and Energy Program stated, “If our nation wants to reduce global warming, air pollution and energy instability, we should invest only in the best energy options. Nuclear energy isn’t one of them”. Nuclear development’s effect on the surrounding environment has been a huge controversy in recent years. “To discuss nuclear power and the environment, then, we must look at those values of the community that are affected by nuclear power and consider which are enhanced and which diminished and to what extent” (Grendon 1972). Nuclear development leads to the creation of not just nuclear weapons, but nuclear power plants as well. The development creates a controversy for the environment and governments. Governments play a huge role in setting nuclear regulations, because the growing development has led to the increase of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste, and the radiation it gives off, is one of the main threats that nuclear power creates. Nuclear development has propelled governments and given them power that they have never had, but the safety of the environment should be a priority.Nuclear Power Plants Critics discussing the environmental impact of nuclear development first look at the effects of nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants are essential to the development of nuclear power. This, though, comes with consequences. The EIA, United States Energy Information Administration, explains the effects of the waste produced by nuclear power plants. They first explain that power plants don’t emit carbon dioxide, unlike fossil-fuel plants. This is a positive because carbon dioxide is a detriment to the atmosphere and has been proven to cause global warming. The EIA then explains the negative effects the waste produced by nuclear power plants has. They state, “The primary environmental concern related to nuclear power is the creation of radioactive wastes such as uranium mill tailings, spent (used) reactor fuel, and other radioactive wastes.” These types of waste are harmful to the environment and dangerous to human health. Misam Jaffer of Stanford University discussed the negative effects that power plants have on the environment. He said the initial building of the plant itself is almost as destructive to the environment as the waste it emits. Jaffer stated, “… the setting up of a nuclear plant requires a large area, preferably situated near a natural water body. This is usually accompanied with clearing of forests which disturbs the natural habitat of several creatures and gradually upsets the ecological balance of the region.” The ecological footprint that power plants create can deteriorate the ecosystem of the surrounding environment. Regarding nuclear development, power plants play a large role. The environmental dangers lead to a need for regulations to help reduce the damages to our surrounding environment. Nuclear Waste In addition to power plants, critics also look at nuclear waste when discussion nuclear development. Nuclear waste is the material that is left over after it was used in a reactor or power plant. This waste is a huge hazard for the environment and the surrounding people to it. “Many of the substances released, including plutonium, uranium,strontium, caesium, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls, mercury and cyanide, are carcinogenic and/or mutagenic and remain hazardous for thousands, some for hundreds of thousands, of years” (Dowd 2006). This shows that not only is nuclear waste harmful to the direct surrounding environment, it stays dangerous for thousands of years. This is a huge concern because an area can be contaminated for long after a nuclear substance is made. An article written by Rinkesh also claims that nuclear waste has a long afterlife. Rinkesh was acknowledged as as one of the World’s Top Eco-Conscious Bloggers and was awarded as one of the ‘Best Green Energy Websites 2017 by Green Match. He states, “The products of nuclear fission have long half lives, which means that they will continue to be radioactive – and therefore hazardous- for many thousands of years.” Rinkesh then explains that to make matters even worse, most of the nuclear waste isn’t stored properly. This means it is very easy to stumble across it in the environment, which will lead to health effects. This leads to maybe the most detrimental effect of nuclear waste. Rinkesh says, “Nuclear waste can have drastically bad effects on life, causing cancerous growths, for instance, or causing genetic problems for many generations of animal and plants.” Not disposing of waste correctly can lead to plants and animals, including humans, to develop many issues. In the United States, nuclear waste has become an issue. The article “Environment and Nuclear Weapons” states, “In the United States, major water systems including the Columbia River, Savannah River and the Snake River aquifer have been contaminated.” US rivers and aquifers, which supply humans with their water supply, have been exposed to nuclear waste. This can lead to a ton of developmental problems if consumed by an individual. Nuclear waste must be looked at when discussion nuclear development. Proper regulations and storage for the waste is a necessity to ensure the safety of the environment.Nuclear Weapons Not only is nuclear power plants and nuclear waste looked at in the discussion of nuclear development. Nuclear weapons, arguably the most controversial topic in nuclear development, is also looked at. Nuclear weapons can cause many detrimental effects toward the environment. The first is sudden annihilation of anything within range of the weapon. “…When the United States dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima in 1945, everything was decimated within a 4.4 square mile radius of detonation” (Dowd 2006). When a nuclear weapon is released, anything in the radius of the blast will be deteriorated. Dr. Mary Dowd then goes on to explain that even if a person or organism survives the initial blast, severe radiation poison will occur, which can lead to death. The article, “Environment and Nuclear Weapons” explains, “In the United States alone, more than $44 billion has been spent on the production of nuclear weapons as of 1996. ‘Clean up’ is projected to cost more than $300 billion through the year 2070, and even then the contaminated sites will require monitoring and stewardship into the far future.” This piece of evidence is explaining that an environmental cleanup of all the nuclear weapons testing would cost our government 300 billion dollars, and there would still be contaminated sites around the world. This is a worry because the environment can never be “wiped clean” from contamination. Another effect of nuclear weapons is a radioactive fallout. “Detonation of nuclear bombs above ground can inject radioactive particles into the stratosphere causing global fallout” (Dowd 2006). Radioactive fallouts can expose people to the nuclear radiation. Although small amounts, this radiation could cause numerous health problems including thyroid cancer (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). The environment, including humans, must be protected from deadly nuclear weapons. This can be done by regulating and restricting the use of nuclear weapons during talks of development.Conclusion Nuclear development leads to many problems for the environment. Through the research of nuclear power plants, nuclear waste, and nuclear weapons, it can be seen that most of the effects of nuclear development are negative. If a country would keep funding their nuclear development program, and increase of all the negative effects would occur. Some of these include plant and animal health risks, radiation exposure, and destruction of the entire ecosystem. The Greenpeace Organization offers a final standpoint to the topic. They stated that, “Currently there is no solution to the problem of radioactive waste, there are no technologies that can clean up radiation, which is why the entire nuclear project must be stopped.” Though this may be true, governments will still continue to fund their nuclear development program. What must be done is find a way to safely dispose of nuclear waste to reduce is detrimental effects.