10 Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy: (Revealing Information)

Just like other energy sources we people use, nuclear energy comes with various advantages and disadvantages. 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. Fission is a process through which uranium atoms split to generate heat. The result is a steam that powers turbines. These, in turn, are used 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’re just pointing out the risks that are also involved.

1. Raw Material

The uranium used in the process of fission 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 fission process; extra safety measures are meant to prevent uranium from emitting harmful levels of radiation.

2. Fuel Availability

Fossil fuels can be found and mined in many countries. However, the same cannot be said about uranium, which is a very scarce resource. Only a few countries have uranium ores, 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 Cost

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; there is a mountain of legal formalities to be approved beforehand and 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 radioactive, which means they need to be removed in a safe way. Even though power plants have undergone recycling efforts of this waste product in recent years, storing the byproduct can lead to contamination through various containment failures.

5. Water Pollutant

The chambers where nuclear fission takes place need to be cooled down by water. Then, this water is turned 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 does not leak into the environment, other heavy metals and pollutants often escape the chambers. The hot water also gives off immense heat that damages to ecosystems nearby the reactor.

6. Risk of Shutdown Reactors

In the past, several nuclear reactors have failed and were shut down as a result. However, after the shutdown, the 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 to be demolished or removed.

7. Nuclear Leaks

The design of a nuclear reactor is created with several safety systems in mind that will contain the radiation emitted in the fission process. But these safety systems function adequately only when they are properly installed and maintained. When they come with structural flaws or are improperly installed, 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. The nuclear effect is often mentioned 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 it’s mined like any other metal, uranium’s availability is limited. Once we extract it all, nuclear plants will be rendered useless. Uranium cannot be called a renewable source 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 accidents. 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 and its uses, check out this 3-part YouTube series. It explains the process in a way everyone can understand and the cute illustrations help, too.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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