Will Blog for Experience: Ashley

I'm a student blogger for Experience.com and if my blog gets the most readers out of these 5 blogs I will be going to Washington, D.C. for a job shadow at the Department of Energy, courtesy of CBCampus. Experience is a career site specifically for college students & alumni. They provide extraordinary job opportunities, real-world insights, and a network of inspirational role-models to help students explore and launch careers they love. Keep reading my blog if you want me to lead this challenge!

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Say it with me folks, N-U-C-L-E-A-R, Nuclear

"Anonymous" asks, "what is your perspective on the use of nuclear energy?"

I encourage the use of nuclear energy, currently one of our four primary sources of energy.

My other posts urge Americans to decrease their reliance upon all four of these sources, but I do not fear the scarcity of nuclear energy like I do that of the remaining three sources. (coal, natural gas, and renewable resources)

According to the Advanced Energy Initiative, a part of President George W. Bush's greater National Emergy Policy, nuclear power seems to be an excellent source of power.

  • Nuclear Power Is Both Abundant And Affordable- Nuclear power is America's second-leading source of electricity. Today, more than 100 nuclear plants operate in 31 states. Once a nuclear plant is constructed, its fuel and operating costs are among the cheapest forms of energy available today.

  • Nuclear Power Is Clean- Nuclear power produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases, and there is a growing concensus that it is an environmnetally responsible choice. Without nuclear energy, carbon dioxide emissions would have been 28 percent greater in the electricity industry in 2004, America would have an additional 700 million tons a year of carbon dioxide, and nitrogen-oxide emisions would rise by the equivalent of 58 million passenger cars.

  • Nuclear Power Is Safe- Advances in science, engineering, and plant design have made nuclear power plants far safer than ever before- plant workers and managers focus on security above all else.

-bulletted text taken from http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/

However, as with many energy options, nuclear power has significant drawbacks. A few of these drawbacks include:

  • Meltdowns- While meltdowns are stringently guarded against with increased safety pre-cautions, they are a dangerous and frightening possibility. In short, a meltdown is caused by the rods in a fission reactor overheating. Rods overheat when there is a loss of coolant water in a fission reactor. If the rods reach 2800°C, the fuel within the fission reactor melts, and a white-hot molten mass will seep out of its containment and into the surface below.

Of course, this is a worst case scenario. Many steps are taken to ensure that such meltdowns do not occur, but they have in the past. The Three Mile Island disaster is classified as a partial meltdown. "The worst case of a nuclear disaster was in 1986 at the Chernobyl facility in the Ukraine. A fire ripped apart the casing of the core, releasing radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere. Thirty-one people died as an immediate result. And estimated 15,000 more died in the surrounding area after exposure to the radiation. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are just examples of the serious problems that meltdowns can create."

-quotes taken from http://members.tripod.com/funk_phenomenon/nuclear/procon.htm

  • Radiation- Radiation sickness is caused by radiation doses of about 200 rems. "The three major effects of radiation (cancer, radiation sickness and genetic mutation) are nearly untraceable at levels below about 50 rems."

However, radiation sickness only occurs if these 200 rems are experienced all at once. To put these number into perspective, "the average person receives about 200 millirems a year from everyday objects and outer space." Even if all of our power came from a nuclear source, we would only "...receive an extra 2/10 of a millirem a year."

-quotes taken from http://members.tripod.com/funk_phenomenon/nuclear/procon.htm

  • Waste Disposal- "The byproducts of the fissioning of uranium-235 remains radioactive for thousands of years..." This threat means that such byproducts and waste must be stored far from society. Although many underground sites have been built, their storage capacity is met within a few short months. "Storage facilities are not sufficient to store the world’s nuclear waste, which limits the amount of nuclear fuel that can be used per year. Transportation of the waste is risky, as many unknown variables may affect the containment vessels. If one of these vessels were compromised, the results may be deadly."

-quotes taken from http://members.tripod.com/funk_phenomenon/nuclear/procon.htm


  • At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great food for thought. Good work Ashley!

  • At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ineresting. Thanks for sharing Ashley!

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