Chernobyl And Three Mile Island Essay Research

Chernobyl And Three Mile Island Essay, Research Paper

Chernobyl and Three Mile IslandChernobyl and Three Mile Island bring visions of mushroom clouds,destruction, death. What do they have in common? They were both nuclearaccidents. They bring up a serious question:Just how safe is nuclear energy?There are many viewpoints on the topic, but most are polluted withmyths and ignorance. With the popularity of the prime-time cartoon TheSimpsons , many people s view on the topic have been distorted. Thefather (Homer) is an undertrained, high-school failure, self-admitted bone-head who works in a nuclear power plant for a money-hoarding oldman. Many opinions on nuclear energy have actually been distorted by thisTV show. They are untrusting, disbelieving and skeptical of nuclearenergy. Their views are unrealistically morbid, however there IS a grainof justification behind their worry. Considering the risks involved withnuclear energy, the possibility for catastrophe is far greater than theirpotential. In fact, a review board for the Atomic Energy Control Boardwrote to the Canadian Treasury Board in regards to the CANDU nuclearreactors (one of the most popular and widely-used design in the world): When modern nuclear power plants were being designed in Canada twodecades ago, their complexity and potential for catastrophic consequenceswere recognized. The plants were designed to high standards, and specialsafety systems were incorporated…. Reactor designers and owners adopteda relatively simple process for evaluating plant safety.Since that time, experience in Canada and the rest of the world hasdemonstrated that this approach to safety is too simplistic. It isrecognized now that, through the combination of a series of comparativelycommon failures which, on their own, are of little consequence, accidentscan develop in a myriad of ways (as demonstrated most vividly at ThreeMile Island and Chernobyl)….The consequences of a severe accident can be very high. The accident atChernobyl has cost the Soviet economy about $ 16 billion includingreplacement power costs. Three Mile Island has cost the USA $ 4.8billion….CANDU plants cannot be said to be either more or less safe than othertypes. 1This having been said, just how safe is nuclear energy? The

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility believes that there arebusiness advantages to dismantling unnecessary nuclear power plants: The International Atomic Energy Agency — IAEA — estimates that therewill be about 100 nuclear power reactors, world-wide, needingdecommissioning (a euphemism for dismantlement) by the first decade of thenext century. Each decommissioning job will cost at least $100 million, sowe are talking about ten billion dollars in business opportunities! 2Not only that, there is a serious safety issue concerning theseplants. First of all, the system used for cooling the nuclear core of aplant relies on a pipe system called feeder pipes. These pipes transportthe cooling material to the nuclear core, preventing it from going intomeltdown (a term coined because the containment walls of the core actuallymelt due to the extreme heat). Now, as a plant ages, the feeder pipescorrode. As this happens, some of the efficiency of the cooling system islost. This process continues until the pipes have broken down completely,thereby eradicating the cooling system totally. This usually occurs soclose to the core where it is unsafe to repair the pipes on a regularbasis, and is a very costly proposition. With this in mind, plants don treplace the pipes at all, and are moving ever closer to the brink ofdisaster. The time has come to decide:Is nuclear power worth the cost needed to be used safely andeffectively? In light of the evidence presented, the answer would have tobe no. The high safety and monetary cost, the past disasters, the incomelost to the plants, any reasonable person would have to say that nuclearpower is not worth the cost. Anyone who disagrees with this statementmust ask themselves this: Is abundant energy worth ultimate disaster? Sources:1: AECB (Atomic Energy Control Board) 1989 Report to the Canadian TreasuryBoard. Ontario, Canada: Atomic Energy Control Board 19892. Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Dec 14, 1996, CanadianCoalition for Nuclear Responsibility Home Page, available at:, accessed Sunday, February 9th, 19963. Nuke Quebec?, Dec 18 1996, ACEB report of Gentilly-2 CANDU reactor,, accessed Saturday, Febuary 8th, 1996