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Nuclear Power and the Disposal of Nuclear Waste

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Nuclear power and the disposal of nuclear waste

It is common knowledge that many sources of energy we are using today will ultimately come to an end some day in the distant future. Scientists have made earnest endeavours to find new sources of energy. Up to now, one of the best alternative supplĂ­e discovered is nuclear energy. However, this strong energy form, as well as the disposal of nuclear waste, has been the subject of much debate since its usage can be both beneficial and destructive to human life. These opposing viewpoints will be discussed in detail in this essay.

First of all, I would like to briefly explain the process of creating nuclear power. Kristen O'Hara summarized it as follows: "Nuclear energy is derived from splitting atoms (fission). In order for fission to occur, a small uncharged particle (neutron) must collide with a large, unstable atom, such as Uranium. The atom will then break apart, releasing heat energy and additional neutrons. The neutrons go on to split other atoms, while the heat is used to produce electricity."

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There are certain benefits to be derived from nuclear power. First, in contrast to oil and gas, nuclear energy is low-cost and effective. It proves very economical in comparison with other renewable energies such as sun, wind or water. On the website of U.S. Energy Information Administration, analytical studies show that "Production costs for nuclear power, operation and maintenance plus fuel costs, are also low, averaging 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour."2 It is relatively stable as the technology has already been developed by the governments and can be readily available at any time. Moreover, an atom fission can generate a great amount of energy. John McCarthy states in his article on Stanford website that "the fission of an atom of uranium produces 10 million times the energy produced by the combustion of an atom of carbon from coal." 3Another advantage of nuclear power is that it emits very little carbon dioxide (CO2.) In fact, the amount of greenhouse gases nuclear energy emits is very small; therefore, its contribution to global warming is insignificant.

With all of the benefits coming from nuclear power, many people hope that it would be the solution for global warming; however, nuclear energy also poses inherent dangers. Worst of all, the waste from nuclear energy is highly harmful. Once produced, radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons can remain a biological hazard for thousands of years. For example, if you come in contact with radioactive waste, you might suffer from skin cancer and the disease will be passed on to your offspring for many further generations.

Second, no matter how cautious people are, it is impossible to build a nuclear power plant

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