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					Nuclear Energy: Best Option




       Andy Kienlen




       Mrs. Shaw 1st

     Research Paper

     Pre-Ap English II
                                                                               Kienlen 1
                                February 24, 2008

                          Nuclear Energy: Best Option

Thesis: Nuclear energy is the best feasible option for the United States, as compared

to the other fuels available.

   I. Nuclear energy in the World

          A. How much it is currently used

          B. France: Nuclear Energy

   II. Safety of Nuclear Power Plants

          A. Vermont Yankee Reactor

          B. Safety Features

   III. Chernobyl

          A. The Accident

          B. Effects of Accident

   IV. Other Fuel Sources

          A. Coal and Oil

          B. Pollution
                                                                                  Kienlen 2


          Nuclear energy, since the 1980’s, has been hated in the United States. It has

been hated because of lies spread to stop nuclear energy, whereas in countries such

as France, it is loved like a child. There are no safety flaws, underground leakage, or

contamination from nuclear reactors in the United States. Compared to coal and gas

fuel sources, nuclear energy is the epitome of safety. Nuclear energy produces just

about zero pollution, and its waste can be reused as fuel in the reactor. Other fuel

sources send out huge amounts of pollution, causing such effects as acid rain.

Nuclear energy is the best feasible option for the United States, as compared to the

other fuels available.

      Nuclear energy is not widely used around the world. “Around the world, nuclear

power plants produce about 17% of the world’s electricity.” (Daley 10) The United

States currently has 20% of its electricity coming from nuclear energy. However the

United States has not built a new reactor since the late 1970’s. The only reason a

new reactor has not been built is because, “The public has a false impression about

the risks of nuclear accidents and radiation, and antinuclear activists prey on these

unreasonable fears.” (Daley 19) Nuclear energy in the United States has only

recently started to revive, with the public beginning to understand nuclear energy

better.

      France is one to the few countries that use nuclear energy to its best potential.

“76 % of France’s electricity comes from nuclear energy.”(Palfreman 1) France began

to use large amounts of nuclear energy since 1973. That is when oil prices soared in

the Middle East. The OPEC nations quadrupled the price of oil. The French refer to it

as the “oil shock”. Unlike in America, nuclear energy is accepted, even popular. “It’s
                                                                               Kienlen 3


not that the French don’t have a gut fear of nuclear power. The difference is that

cultural, economic, and political forces in France act to counteract these fears.”

(Palfreman 1) Over two-thirds of the population is in favor of nuclear power. Many

counties in France even lobby for nuclear power plants to be built in their county.

France doesn’t need to rely on many energy resources from other countries. They

are self reliant. France is the shining example of a nation using nuclear energy to its

fullest extent.

       Nuclear energy has great safety features, and all of them are used to their

fullest extent at the Vermont Yankee Reactor. “The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power

Plant in Vernon, Vermont has an impressive safety record and holds a world record

in electricity production.”(Daley 7) The plant has never had an accident before, and

never will. It has state of the art safety features. “In the extremely remote chance

things did get out of hand, the massive steel and concrete building that surrounds the

reactor would prevent any radiation from reaching the public.”(Daley 9) The public is

safe from any kind of accident, and there is no chance that there can ever be any

radiation leakage. There has never been a nuclear accident in the United States.

       Nuclear power plants go through strict safety pre-cautions before they can be

built, and while they are in use. “Before a nuclear power plant can be started up,

everything must conform to rigorous technical guidelines.”(Daley 8) All of the reactor

operators spend a massive amount of time to learn how to handle any situation.

Everything is performed to perfection when working in a nuclear power plant. The

United States has the best safety features available, but a question asked by the

public is most often, “What about the nuclear waste?” The technology for safe
                                                                               Kienlen 4


disposal of nuclear waste has long been available; burial in rocks far below the

earth’s surface. “Only misperceptions of the danger lead the public to oppose this

safe solution to the problem.”(Daley 19) The public has a false impression about the

risks of nuclear accidents, and antinuclear activists prey on this unreasonable fear, to

further their own agendas.

       The only nuclear accident to ever occur in the earth’s history is Chernobyl.

Chernobyl was a common Soviet Union nuclear power plant. The Chernobyl accident

occurred in 1986. “The accident was the result of a flawed reactor design that was

operated with inadequately trained personnel and without proper regard for safety.”

(Chernobyl Accident-Australian Uranium Association) The accident can be closely

linked to the minimal training given to plant operators in the Soviet Union. The reason

any radiation was linked into the surrounding area was because of the flawed reactor

design. A correctly built reactor would have easily contained all of the radiation, but

dou to its constuction; “it released about 3% of its radioactive material.”(Chernobyl

Accident-Australian Uranium Association) It could have also been a direct

consequence of Cold War isolation. “Those living within 30 kilometers were

evacuated from the area around Chernobyl” (Chernobyl Accident-Australian Uranium

Association) Large areas of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia were contaminated so that

they could not be used for agricultural. Now though people are slowly starting to

move back in to the area, with radiation starting to decrease in the soil.

       Chernobyl has had many recurring effects on the world, throughout the time

that has gone by. It has condemned nuclear power for many people, and they will

never consider it as a reliable energy source. “An authoritave UN report in 2000
                                                                                   Kienlen 5


concluded that there is no scientific evidence of any significant radiation related

health effects to most people exposed. This was confirmed in a very thorough 2005-

2006 study” (Chernobyl Accident-World Nuclear Association) Even though it did

release radiation the effects were minimum on the population of the area. It was

contained to a very small radius. “28 people died in 4 months, 19 died after, and

about 9 died from thyroid cancer. A total of 56 fatalities as of 2004.”(Chernobyl

Accident-Australian Uranium Association) This is a small amount comparing it to

other disasters that produced thousand’s of fatalities. Compared to the pollution that

other power plants produce, these are inconsequential fatalities not related to a

correctly built power plant. “A repetition of the 1986 Chernobyl accident is now

virtually impossible, according to a German nuclear safety agency report.”(Chernobyl

Accident-World Nuclear Association) The safety of nuclear power plants is so state of

the art that it is now impossible for anything similar to this to happen. There is no

chance that there will ever be a nuclear disaster any time in the future, it is the safest

form of energy.

       Coal and oil power plants are currently the most used energy sources. 85% of

the energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels. Both of these are fossil fuels

that will eventually run out. A power plant of the Vermont Yankee reactor with, “its

single load of 150 tons of nuclear fuel will last for 18 months, and produce as much

electricity as 2,325,000 tons of coal-more than 23,000 train cars full.”(Daley 7) The

Vermont saves a million gallons of oil per day. Nuclear power can save these energy

sources until a crisis occurs, or they are needed. To get enough coal for the power

plants nearly 4000 coal miners die from inhalation of coal dust a year. “By
                                                                                       Kienlen 6


substituting for the use of fossil fuels in electricity production between 1973-1993,

nuclear power replaced 21 billion barrels of oil, 26 billion tons of coal, and 90 trillion

cubic feet of natural gas with energy from 30,000 tons of uranium.”(Daley 54) This

increased the United States energy security by reducing the need for foreign oil,

“saving nearly 83 billion dollars since 1973.”(Daley 54) By replacing oil and coal

power plants with nuclear power plants, the United States could be self-reliant, and

not held hostage by coal and oil producing countries.

       Pollution is a major affect of using coal and oil power plants.

       Burning coal, and oil contributes to three major air pollution problems: carbon

       dioxide, which contributes to global warming; sulfur dioxide, a contributor to

       acid rain, which poisons lakes and destroys forests; and nitrous oxide, a major

       part of smog as well as a component of acid rain. Nuclear power prevents 1.8

       metric tons of carbon dioxide, 27 million tons of nitrous oxide, and 85 million

       tons of sulfur dioxide a year. In 1992, coal plants emitted over 14 million tons

       of sulfur dioxide, resulting in health cost of 50 billion dollars.(Daley 53)

This pollution is only emitted from these kinds of plants, and nuclear power plants

emit no pollution, do not make acid rain, global warming, or acid rain.

       Nuclear energy is the best feasible option for the United States, as compared

to the other fuels available. Nuclear energy with its infinite amount of power (Riley) is

only sparsely used in the United States, whereas in France it is widely used. The one

disclaimer to nuclear power is Chernobyl, but it has been proven by the United

Nations that the accident was almost completely inconsequential to the people’s

health. Coal and Oil aren’t better than nuclear energy because of the large amounts
                                                                                    Kienlen 7


of pollution that they emit. Nuclear energy is the best option for the whole world, and

there is absolutely no possibility of anything going wrong in the future.
                                    Work Cited

“Chernobyl Accident”. Australian Uranium Association.Febuary 2008.

      World Nuclear Association.http://www.uic.com.au/nip22.htm



“Chernobyl Accident”. World NuclearAssociation.May,2007.1/30/08.

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.htm



Daley, Michael J.Nuclear Power: Promise or Peril.Minneapolis: Lerner

      Publications Company, 1997



Guinnessy, Paul. “Stronger Future for Nuclear Power”. Issues and Events.

      2006. American Institute of Physics.2/05/08.

      http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-2/p19.html



“Nuclear Energy”.NuclearPhysics: Past, Present and Future.October 1996.

      Think Quest.1/30/08http://library.thinkquest.org/3471/nuclear_energy.html



Palfreman, Jon. “Why the French Like Nuclear Energy”. Nuclear Reaction:

      Why do Americans Fear Nuclear Power. 2007.

      WGBHeducationalfoundation.2/05/08.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/show/reaction/readings/french.html
Riley, Don. Available-700 Years of Fuel for United States Energy Needs.

     US Total Energy, 2007

				
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