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The Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy Discussion: Costs and Environment (Essay Sample)


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In ‘Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy’ Comby argues that nuclear energy has become an alternative source of power despite the resistant it met in the early 1970s. His ideas are supported by Kate who affirms that nuclear energy is deemed environmentally friendly since it emits less greenhouse gases during power generation. Comby further outlines that nuclear energy is the only source of power accepted as potentially dangerous and problematic, yet still manageable in generation of electricity. The debate on nuclear energy has been centered on weighing the rewards against risks.[Bruno Comby, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy (UK: TNR. 2001) 12] [Tsubata Kate, Nuclear Power’s New Promise and Peril (World & I , Vol.17. No. 5, 2002), 52] [Comby, "Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, 26]
Pros of Nuclear Energy
Even though it costs a lot to build a nuclear power plant, the operational costs after constructions are very low. The technology required to build a nuclear power plant is readily available. Thus, the plant can be built in any environment. Once the power plant is constructed, generation of electricity from the reactors is relatively cheaper than generating power from oil, gas, and coal. Ultimately for Comby, "a nuclear reactor has a life span of between 40 and 60 years depending on the frequency of its use”. One nuclear plant can generate huge amounts of electrical energy that can serve both industrial and city needs. Secondly, nuclear energy is very reliable. The base load energy in a nuclear power plant is very stable. Thus, a nuclear plant can supply constant power 24/7 without interruptions or limitations of weather. In her article "Nuclear Power’s New Promise and Peril" Kate provides data to shows that with the current consumption of uranium, there is enough of it to last for 80 years to come. When set in operation, a nuclear plant can generate energy for a year without any interruptions.[Ibid., 28] [Kate, "Nuclear Power’s New Promise and Peril”, 53]
Third, nuclear energy has very minimal impact to the natural environment since it does not produce carbon dioxide or methane. It has no unfavorable impact on land, water, or any territories except when during transportation. With nuclear energy the level of pollution is reduced significantly. Using nuclear energy to produce power means less fossil fuel will be used in power generation. Less usage of fossil fuels implies reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. Studies have shown that the amount of greenhouse gases have gone down by 50% because of the prevalence of nuclear power. Besides, the waste from the plants can be reduced through waste recycling and reprocessing. Nuclear energy is more proficient than other sources of energy since it has high energy density. In addition, Comby explains that "nuclear power plants require comparatively less fuel since the amount of energy released in fission in far greater than the energy released by fossil fuel atom”.[Comby, "Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, 34]
Cons of Nuclear Energy
However, nuclear energy also has detrimental effects to humans and environment. First, the process of mining and refining uranium (the major raw material) is never clean. In fact, the process of transporting nuclear fuel to and from the plant poses a dangerous pollution threat to the environment. Additionally, after the fuel is used the end product is radioactive and dangerous which cannot be taken to the landfills. Kate states that with high amount of energy released, there is also lots of nuclear waste amount to 2000 metric tons annually. This waste results into high temperatures and radiation that often consumes any compartment holding it. Thus, the living things and plants around can adversely be affected.[Kate, "Nuclear Power’s New Promise and Peril”, 55]
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