Are you for or against the use of Nuclear Power? I am all for it. Reasons being....
1. Well, this isnt a reason why it seems to me that most people who are against it base their arguments on 'shock factor' about radiation and the bad things it can do in LARGE quantities.
2. It does not pollute air, and the radioactive waste is disposed of in a geological site where it decays without affecting the ecosystem.
3. Small to Moderate quantities of radiation only stimulate the immune system, and actually strengthen it. Only in large quantities does it hurt you. Radiation, much like bacteria, can hurt us. But are also a valid and vital part of our universe.
4. Although right now Uranium seems generally unattainable, there are unexploited pockets of it along the earths crust.
5. 1/5 of America's power comes from nuclear power plants. If we were to stop using it entirely 60 Million people would be without power.
6. Despite some very VERY major incidents such as Pennsylvania and Chernobyl, it is very very safe. Especially when compared to deaths involving fossil fuels such as coal.
I am for it, but I don't believe that your points are valid.
1: Actually, most of the people I know that are against base their arguments on the leakage of radioactive waste from its containment, and the problem of what to do with it once it has built up.
2: Well, actually, the construction of the nuclear plant produces carbon dioxide, and since nuclear plants only have a finite lifetime of use, construction is a major factor.
3: Where did you get this fact? As far as I and most of the nuclear scientists I know, there're very few data on the effects of radiation in small quantities. I think your statement as fact is only a hypothesis.
4: Yes, and we could destroy large sections of ecoystems trying to get it out. Mining of any type can do this.
5: True; if we immediately shut down nuclear plants today, people will be without power. However, if we actually make an intelligent, planned transition to another power source, no power loss will occur.
6: The Three Mile Island incident wasn't major; the meltdown was partial, and the people exposed to radiation only got a bit above background.
7: The Japan incident was major.
1. Yes, shock factor. They use the idea of meltdowns, how you can get sick etc. etc.
2. Im talking about the actual production of energy.
3. I found it from a few sites actually, one of them being .edu
4. I dont understand what you are trying to say.
5. Still, we would probably end up replacing it with fossil fuel, mankind has not found that many alternatives.
6/7. Japan incident was caused by an earthquake generally.
I'm against fission based nuclear power plants. Fusion based aren't ready for large-scale production of energy, so I'll not discuss them for now.
I'll reply to the points in Deagonx 1st post.
1. That is not a good argument in favour, saying that the arguments against aren't good.
2. Under ideal conditions, the pollution of a nuclear plant is acceptable, the problem is that nobody can guarantee ideal conditions all the time. Accidents happen and we can't predict the next human error. On top of that, the Universe is beyond our control: earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, asteroids, etc..
3. True. But that "small to moderate dose of radiation" means in fact a very low value. A nuclear plant has inside values much much much higher than those. And the Nature gives us a small dose of radiation, so we don't really need more, do we?
4. Is very well answered by Duckling. To get the Uranium you'll to mine it. Mining affects the landscape (the presence of roads, to say the least). If you want a more drastic effect, the water near the mines is usually contaminated with solvents.
5. Again, very well answered by Duckling. No change of energy source needs to be drastic. If things are well planned, the transition can be smooth.
6. I don't agree totally. The number of incidents is indeed very low, but when problems arise the consequences are very serious.
So, in favour of using nuclear energy:
8. It's a very efficient source of energy.
9. It can reduce the production of greenhouse gases if it's used to replace fossil fuels.
10. Today there aren't alternatives available in a large scale to replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power.
11. Accidents are usually very serious.
12. Costs of proper disposal and treatment of radioactive waste and cleaning affected areas aren't included in the cost of operation of a nuclear plant, rising it's cost a lot when these accounted for.
13. "Clean" alternatives exist and their cost is getting lower. So, when deciding we must also think one step ahead.
For me, point 11 is the major one. Nuclear plants should be gradually shut down. And investment in solar power should be significantly increased (solar energy used for heating water, for illumination and for producing electricity). Increasing efficiency of energy use should also be made.
Until there's a source of renewable energy that can do a better job I'm all for it. And there's no way to force when that's going to happen. Spending a lot of money on a failed proposition like ethanol didn't help anyone (and the U.S. government is still doing it).
I'm not arguing with you, but I would like to present some information I happen to know that is relevant to your points. (It might sound a bit like arguing ;))
Most nuclear accidents aren't very serious, because everything has a backup. Every once in a while -- more often than you might think -- nuclear accidents occur that you don't hear about, like a valve opening by accident and dumping a couple of hundred gallons of mildly irradiated coolant into a chamber of the facility. Usually, the accidents are taken care of quickly and efficiently, with no injuries. That is to say, minor incidents do happen, but they are all contained and time-insensitive, giving workers time to prepare to deal with the problem and make sure everything goes smoothly. When things go bad, however, they really go bad.
On the other hand, coal-fired power plants are at the other end of the spectrum. They also have minor to moderate incidents on a regular basis, but they can be more violent, damaging, and sometimes kill workers. However, they aren't quite capable of blowing up an entire city -- in other words, "really going bad."
In the present, nuclear technology is such that radioactive waste is produced that we cannot do anything with; it must be contained in secure environments for extended periods of time, until the radioactivity level is no greater than that of uranium, at which point I believe standard operating procedure is to transport it to a less secure location, or bury it in a landfill (?) to make room for the new waste coming in.
However, new research is being done so that (optimistically) the spent fuel may be cycled back through a centrifuge and separated into radioactive isotopes that can then be used in nuclear reactions of their own. Non-uranium reactors are already built; thorium reactors exist in India (I've looked at the top-secret plans for one, too! More about that at a later time), and other unstable-nucleus isotopes might have their own reactors in the future. Even better, general spent-fuel reactors could theoretically be built, where spent uranium fuel was used for more power generation. The by-products of this reactor would most likely be stable or very short half-lived.
Well, I draw a few conclusions from your post:
1. I'm aware that anything that is made by humans has problems from time to time. And that small problems are more frequent than large problems (that usually appear when more than one thing fails at the same time).
Furthermore, greediness has a role in the problems that may appear. In the case of nuclear power plants, there is "out there" better technology that the one that it's used in many working nuclear plants. The upgrade (or the change to new plants) isn't made because it costs a lot and everyone hopes that the old equipment will last without problems during their expected lifetime.
2. Other types of plants (non-nuclear) have less security (and backup) systems than they probably should have.
3. I hope that the technology evolves and these nuclear power plants using radioactive waste are available (with the necessary security systems). At least the waste we, humans, produce can be used for something until it becomes a less dangerous waste.
I understand that nuclear power has a few kinks to work out, I dont think anybody is ignorant enough to say it doesnt. But fossil fuels aren't going to last forever.
It seems ironic to me that nuclear fission plants are expected to phase out fossil fuel plants when the same problems are involved. Power production tends to be cheaper per unit of power with fission, but the risks associated with this production are just as high. Even if research is being conducted to find ways to use the radioactive byproducts, part of putting that research to use involves salvaging the wastes from their containers, which carries in itself a high risk of leakage into the ecosystem. The effects of that are just as catastrophic as--if not more so than--the effects of fossil fuel exhaust on the atmosphere. In addition, one must consider the lengthy decay times of the radioactive wastes; in some cases, it can be a staggering multitude of millennia. Considering the rapid evolution of languages, how can we be certain that future generations will still be able to recognize these waste products as hazardous?
With these factors set against fission, I would say it's only an increase in both the payoff and risk factors from fossil fuels, meaning it's a poor choice in "advancement." However, as this topic covers nuclear power--which I assume to include all its forms--fusion strikes me as a much more favorable step away from fossil fuels. (Ert mentioned he didn't want to bring it up since it isn't yet ready for large-scale production, but I think fusion still plays a role in influencing whether fission power is favorable or not.) There are no hazardous waste products (and thus a cost reduction in dealing with waste cleanup), it is perfectly self-sustaining, the input resources are incredibly easy to find, and safety is not nearly as great a concern as it is with fission.
One thing to point out about Nuclear Power is the cost of building a plant that can operate safely. And I don't just mean monetary cost. Fuel cost. Oil being as scarce as it is, do we really NEED to invest it in something that will just delay the currently inevitable: Fuel shortages?
I don't see your connection between the possible future shortages of oil and the viability of nuclear power plants, which run on uranium.
After the Three Mile Island accident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident), America overreacted about Nuclear Power. I hate to say this, but we should take a leason from France and use more nuclear power.
"The China Syndrome" didn't exactly help, either.
I am all in agreement with DD and the (apparently) begrudging smartypants.