10 Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy: (Revealing Information)
Just like other energy sources we people use, there can be advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy. At the moment, nuclear energy is still considered very controversial and a hot issue. Scientists and international forums still talk about the balance between the disadvantages of nuclear energy and its pros.
A lot of people believe that nuclear energy only comes with minimal disadvantages, easily outnumbered by the great numbers of advantages. However, before we can have a view on the matter, we must know all the pieces of the puzzle. Learning about the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy helps people change their perception on this matter.
Nuclear Power Source
We have learned to harness nuclear energy to produce electricity for our factories and homes. Nuclear fission reaction is a process through which uranium atoms split to generate heat. The result is a steam that powers turbines. In turn, they use these to produce the electricity that supplies the community surrounding the power plant.
Nuclear power stations are designed to work in a multiple-step process to help contain the energy and the many negative byproducts that result from this process. If you want to find out more facts about nuclear energy, as well as many of its advantages, check out this thorough article. Today we’ll talk about the disadvantages to fill in the blanks and have a complete picture of the use of nuclear energy.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
In spite of its many benefits, nuclear energy often falls under fire because of the many disadvantages it brings. That’s not to say that nuclear energy is not useful; we are just pointing out the risks that are also involved. Here are ten disadvantages of nuclear energy that we have seen.
1. Raw Materials
The uranium they use in the process of nuclear fission reaction is a naturally unstable element. In other words, it means that the people working in mining, transporting, and storing of uranium must take special precautions. The same goes for the storing of any waste product resulting from the nuclear fission process; extra safety measures are meant to prevent uranium from emitting harmful levels of radiation.
2. Fuel Availability
Many countries can find and mine fossil fuels. However, the same cannot be said about uranium, which is a very scarce resource. Only a few countries have uranium ore, which means that a tiresome process of getting the approval of several international authorities is required before anyone can build a nuclear power plant.
3. High Costs
Even if you do get permission to build a plant that uses nuclear energy, you stumble upon another disadvantage: the massive investment required to set up a functional nuclear power station. Developing countries can rarely afford to use nuclear energy because it’s such a costly source of alternative energy. Meanwhile, nuclear power plants usually take 5 to 10 years to build because there is a mountain of legal formalities to be approved beforehand. On top of that, the people living nearby the potential site usually oppose the project.
4. Nuclear Waste
After the uranium splits to generate heat, the resulting byproducts are a radioactive material, which means workers need to conduct waste disposal in a safe way. Even though power plants have undergone recycling efforts of this nuclear waste product in recent years, storing the byproduct can lead to contamination through various containment failures.
5. Water Pollutant
Water needs to cool down the chambers where nuclear fission takes place. Then, this water turns into steam, which powers the massive turbines. After the water cools down and changes back into liquid form, the plant pumps it outside into nearby wetlands. While measures ensure radiation and radioactive material do not leak into the environment, other heavy metals and pollutants often escape the chambers. The hot water also gives off immense heat that damages the ecosystems nearby the reactor.
6. Risk of Shutdown Reactors
In the past, several nuclear reactors have failed, which led to them shutting down as a result. However, after the shutdown, the nuclear plants remain on location as abandoned reactors. Not only do they take up valuable land space, but they also could contaminate the surrounding areas. However, the problem is that shutdown reactors are often too unstable for other companies to demolish or remove them.
7. Nuclear Leaks
Scientists create a nuclear reactor designs with several safety systems in mind that will contain the radiation emitted in the fission process. But these safety systems function adequately only when workers properly install and maintain them. When the plants come with structural flaws or people improperly install them, nuclear reactors could leak harmful amounts of radiation into the environment. For example, if a containment field were to break suddenly, the radiation leak could be catastrophic.
8. Impact on Human Life
The nuclear disaster at Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused during the Second World War is an everlasting memo of what nuclear energy and nuclear bombs can do. Even though more than five decades have passed since, many children are still born with physical and neurological defects. People often mention exposure to radiation as a primary cause. The sad news is that we still have no remedy for these cases.
9. Non-Renewable Resource
Uranium is currently the sole raw material for generating nuclear energy. As we said before, this is a scarce resource and in limited supply. Most countries which use nuclear energy rely on other countries for the constant fuel supply. Since companies mine it like any other metal, uranium’s availability is limited. Once we extract it all, nuclear plants will be rendered useless. We cannot call Uranium a renewable source or a renewable energy due to its limited supply and hazardous effects.
10. National Risk
When we discovered nuclear energy, we found the power to produce more weapons. Even though nuclear energy can help us make the world a better place, it can also be the spark that starts another world war. Using nuclear energy more responsible is mandatory to avoid any sort of major nuclear accident. Power plants are hot targets for terrorist organizations and extremist militants, which makes security a major concern.
If you want to learn more about nuclear energy , nuclear energy sources, and its uses, check out this three-part YouTube series. It explains the process in a way everyone can understand, and the cute illustrations help, too.