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Nuclear Energy a Dangerous Source of Energy
By Derrick O’Toole

Nuclear energy has been considered by many to be one of the most important developments of the 20th century. Ever since the first reactor opened in the USSR on June 27, 1954, it has been providing the world more and more power until today when nuclear energy provides up to sixteen percent of the worlds electricity. [1] However a growing portion of the world population has started to see the many negatives to nuclear power and the dangers, which accompany it. These include but are not limited too; nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, Nuclear Waste, and the obvious Military uses of nuclear technology. For these reasons and more, nuclear energy is dangerous and should not be widespread energy source.

Currently worldwide there are 438 nuclear reactors along with more than 150 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion systems. [2] With all these institutions working everyday without incident, its sometimes easy to forget about nuclear incidents such as the Chernobyl disaster which occurred in the Soviet Union on April 26th 1986 or the Three Mile Island incident which occurred at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979. Both major events have brought to light the possibility for nuclear energy to harm not only those within the vicinity but also those far from the epicenter. In the case of the Chernobyl Disaster between 100,000 to 200,000 people have been affected directly health wise by the disaster with over 400 people having died so far from expose to radioactive materials released when the plant exploded. [3]

Another important reason why nuclear energy is dangerous is the massive amounts of radioactive waste produced. Waste is placed into three categories depending on the half-life for it to loose its radioactive properties and the severity of the wastes radioactive exposure. Each year nuclear reactors, processing plants and research facilities worldwide produce about 200,000 m3 of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, and about 10,000 m3 of high-level waste.[4] All this waste is stored around the world in a variety of temporary and permanent locations. These locations although now sealed may within the radioactive wastes half life (up to 100,000 years) become leaky which may in the future cause health and environmental concerns.

Possibly the most important reason why nuclear energy is dangerous, is the growing number of countries who have access to nuclear technology which also increases the number of countries with the ability to militarize said technology. Currently there are eight countries with declared nuclear weapons programs: The United States, Russia, The United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Furthermore South Africa had a program but had all their weapons dismantled and it has been long suspected that Israel has a program.  The problem with more countries becoming nuclear weapon states, is the growing number of people who have the knowledge and equipment to build nuclear weapons for other nations, rogue forces or even terrorist organizations.  Case in point is the story of Abdul Qadeer Khan who is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program. Abdul Qadeer Khan was found to be providing information and equipment used in enriching uranium for nuclear weapon purposes  to various countries including Iran, North Korea and Libya. Also several of Abdul Qadeer Khan top staff were arrested in 2001 for connection to terrorist organizations including the Taliban from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda.

Nuclear energy although able to provide the world with a growing amount of energy, is in fact quite dangerous to persons and the environment.  With its spotted tract record of accidents, its large amount of deadly radioactive waste, and usage in the creation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear energy is dangerous and should not be widespread energy source.

[1] "From Obninsk Beyond: Nuclear Power Conference Looks to Future." International Atomic Energy Agency. N.p., 24/Jun/2004. Web. 11 Nov 2010. <http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2004/obninsk.html>.
[2] Findlay, Trevor. "The Future of Nuclear Energy to 2030 and its Implications for Safety, Security and Nonproliferation: Addressing International Governance Challenges." Center for International Governance Innovation. 2010: Print.
[3] Rosenthal, Elisabeth. "Experts Find Reduced Effects of Chernobyl." The New York Times. nytimes.com, 06/sep/2005. Web. 11 Nov 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/06/international/europe/06chernobyl.html?_r=3&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin>.
[4] "Radioactive Waste Management." World Nuclear Association. N.p., Jun/2009. Web. 11 Nov 2010. <http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf04.html>.


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