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
The release and development of the enormous energy potential locked in the atomic nucleus signified a key revolution in scientific research in the 20th century. With great potential and optimism of developing a pollution free unlimited supply of energy, nuclear technology was ushered into the 21st century where it has become embroiled in unending debates. Nuclear power is a clean source of energy, ...
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
... safety was renewed following an accident at a facility in the Soviet Union in April 1986. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is located 80 ... radiation particles. These procedures are highly effective in stopping the contamination of the local community. Because of all the possible damage nuclear power plants ...
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 a result of the high radiation
doses that they have sustained. Future generations must be studied to ascertain whether their incidence to
cancers, diseases, or birth defects can directly attribute to a prior generation nuclear accident. The costs of
nuclear power are, hence, quiet substantial. Most people don’t realize this, but terrorists train near Three Mile
Island. “In late 1992 to 1993, training was conducted at a camp near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for operations
and assassinations in the United States and Overseas” (Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali).
High-level radioactive waste is very dangerous, and can remain so for tens of thousands of years before decaying to safe levels. It is highly radioactive and is a major barrier to the expansion of nuclear power. If there is to be a “nuclear renaissance”, a sophisticated method of dealing with this waste must be refined. This point itself has sparked a surprising number of debates. For ...
The FBI had been aware
of the training going on, at least a month before the terrorists bombed the World Trade Center on February
“One of the main problems concerning nuclear power could be the secret kept around it. Nuclear
companies are very isolated” (Fragelada).
Another reason to stand against nuclear power is that,
unbeknownst to the general public, its wastes are used in the development of nuclear weapons. Although a
county initiating the use of nuclear power may develop high-level waste storage methods, they are not
generally designed to prevent encroachment. Nuclear waste becomes more tempting to potential bomb
makers as time allows the waste to decay into a cleaner plutonium which could be used in nuclear weapons.
Another problem is, what do you do with the wastes? “The problem of the wastes is a catastrophe in all the
producer countries. Nobody knows what to do with it. They are buried, either in the countryside or in foreign
Politicians and media personnel often oversimplify nuclear power by showing only its’ beneficial
aspects. Llewellyn King asserts that because the word thought that it was running out of oil and natural gas
in the 1970’s, the logical explanation was to expand nuclear power production. Because coal and gas emit
large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, Llewellyn asserted that nuclear power could clean up the
atmosphere, thus stopping global warming. Although, the concerns of the writer are credible, further
education of the devastating effects of nuclear power accidents would probably yield a change of heart.
We must not be swayed by the opinions of those associated with, or those who have connections
with the press. Nuclear power poses a life- threatening risk to the public and the future of our world. We
must do all we can to persuade, convince, and educate the general public. The horrible effects of nuclear
accidents will eventually cause death and destruction to all life as we know it. Stand firmly opposed to
nuclear energy and save our planet form eventual destruction.
Chernobyl: Health Impact – Chapter V. Accessed on July 20, 2000.
When most people think of a nuclear threat, they think of a nuclear attack from a foreign nation. In reality, the largest nuclear threat comes not from foreign attack, but from a much closer enemy: nuclear power. Nuclear power is very dangerous, and should be done away with. The nuclear age dawned in 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ...
Nuclear Waste Problems. Accessed on July 19, 2000.
Growth impairment and mental retardation among children exposed to
atomic-bomb radiation before birth. Accessed on June 20, 2000.
TIP 10: Status of Three Mile Island Unit 2. Accessed on July 20, 2000.
Lemonick, Michael D. Paying for Disaster. Time Magazine; May 17, 1993.
Accessed on July 22, 2000.
Perlman, Fredy. Progress & Nuclear Power: The Destruction of the
Continent and Its Peoples. Accessed on July 22, 2000.
The Chernobyl Accidents and Its Consequences. Accessed on July 20, 2000.
Fragelada, Hiram. Chernobyl Project. Accessed on July 20, 2000.
Ali, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig. Another Nuclear Threat. Accessed July 21, 2000.