With preventing global warming fresh on the minds of millions, nuclear power is returning to the forefront as a viable energy option. While there are many advantages to using nuclear energy as a source of power, there are also severe disadvantages which are not often discussed when people speak of using nuclear power. Deciding if the risks are worth the gain is something we may very well have to do in the future, as our current method of generating energy is non-renewable and in very low supply.
The biggest plus for nuclear energy is the sheer amount of energy one plant can generate. A single nuclear plant can produce the same energy as four oil or coal powered plants in the same lifetime. In addition to this, CO2 emissions are much lower, though they are present. Since nuclear technology is already available, there is no need to spend time and money developing it. It can be used in any part of the globe, no matter the location, which makes it another viable option for reducing our dependence on sources like oil and coal.
However, these advantages also come with disadvantages. The biggest problem revolving around nuclear energy is what to do with the waste. Nuclear waste is extremely dangerous and must be handled with care for nearly 10,000 years before it loses all radioactivity. In addition to this danger, it is near impossible to build a plant which is 100% safe. There will always be a small chance for failure, and the consequences of this failure will be felt all over the world. The nuclear failure at the Chernobyl power plant is still being felt in the world today, and the accident occurred over 25 years ago.
Because nuclear energy is so volatile, if a nation relies purely on nuclear power, it could be come the target of terrorist attacks. There is no plant in the world today which could withstand a terrorist attack similar to what happened in New York on September 11th, 2001. Such a terrorist attack would not only be catastrophic for the nation involved, but everyone else in the world as well.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage aside from the risks associated with nuclear power is the fact that uranium, the main ingredient in producing nuclear power, has a very finite supply. Current estimates put the uranium supply as enough to last the world for 30 to 60 years, depending on how many new nuclear power plants are built over the next several decades.
Since there are quite a few disadvantages which outweigh the advantages gained from nuclear energy, many politicians are hoping to rely on other truly renewable energy sources like wind and water energy so the world’s supply of energy will not have to be relegated to nuclear energy. While there are many plants active in the world today, working to keep this number at a relative minimum will mean not having to worry about the results of a nuclear disaster or attack.