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Nuclear Energy: Good or Bad?

Nuclear Energy: Good or Bad?

Like a neutron colliding with an atom, two factors are igniting Americans, and particularly environmentalists, into reconciling a messy question: Do we or don’t we want to develop nuclear power? Eight years of the Bush Administration’s heavily pro-nuclear policies with billions in government subsidies have roused the ailing nuclear industry. Simultaneously, our search for clean, greenhouse gas-free energy sources has turned urgent in the face of climate change. The mix of influences is propelling nuclear energy into the lime light for serious reconsideration.

But many of the old concerns remain. Since the accident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island power plant in 1979, no applications for new nuclear power plant building permits were submitted for almost 30 years. While no one was killed or even hurt following the reactor’s partial meltdown, the public glimpsed the potential for disaster.

Nonetheless, the industry has persevered, claiming improved oversight and potential to improve air quality, although it has found no long-term solution for disposing its radioactive waste. Today, 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states supply 20 percent of our electricity, making it our second largest energy source after coal.

Things began to heat up for the industry within two weeks of President Bush taking office in January 2001. He formed the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPD), headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, which produced a National Energy Policy report by May of that year, recommending “the President support the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States as a major component of our national energy policy.”

Following a long legal battle to force the release of NEPD documents to the public, environmental lawyers at Natural Resource Defense Council uncovered that industry lobbyists were integral in forming the president’s energy policy and his decision to launch a so-called ‘nuclear revival’. Over eight years the nuclear industry has received billions in government funds, while construction and operating license applications for 30 new reactors are in the works. Such support would likely increase if Arizona Senator John McCain takes office next year. He recently said, “… the French are able to generate 80 percent of their electricity with nuclear power. There’s no reason why America shouldn’t.”

Meanwhile, research has mounted documenting current and potential impacts of climate change. The IPCC found the world must drastically and quickly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere in order to avoid the worst impacts of a warmer planet, which include rising oceans, more severe weather, destruction of ecosystems, and the spread of animal- and insect-borne diseases.

But there are no easy, off-the-shelf technologies currently available to enable such reductions. Research is under way, alternatives are being built, and waste-cutting efficiencies implemented although none can yet accomplish the necessary cuts while feeding the world’s voracious and growing use of electricity. Accept for maybe nuclear power. Here we’ve briefly summed up some of the hot topics:

Emissions: Compared to other major existing energy sources, such as coal and oil, nuclear power emits almost no greenhouse gasses, or nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, the primary components of air pollution.

Energy independence: Increasing American nuclear energy enables the country to reduce the amount of oil it imports from other parts of the world and provides reliable base-load power. However, there are limited stores of uranium isotope U-235, which is required for nuclear fission and is largely found in Canada, Australia, and Niger.

Cost: The expense of building two advanced technology nuclear reactors was originally estimated at around $7 billion. The price tag recently rose to $14 billion and construction hasn’t even begun. Champions of wind, solar, and other forms of alternative energy argue high cost and government support for nuclear are gobbling up money that could help develop less established industries.

Environmental health and safety: The risk of a catastrophic reactor accident, as well as significant waste disposal problems, hangs around nuclear power’s neck like a noose. Uranium mining can also endanger the health of miners and people living near mines, as well as the environment, as radioactive ore waste has been shown to contaminate surface and groundwater.

Security: Underlying a nuclear chain reaction in both an energy reactor and weapon is an isotope called uranium-235. Reactor grade uranium requires a 3-5 percent concentration of U-235, while weapon grade needs 90 percent concentration. Therefore anyone possessing U-235 and the necessary equipment can make either nuclear energy or bombs.

Impact on natural resources: The Union of Concerned Scientists calculated that to keep cool a typical 1,000 megawatt reactor requires approximately 476,500 gallons of water a minute be pumped through its system, a number that could nearly triple in some of the new, larger facilities. In some systems, the warmed water returned to its source—lake, river, ocean—contains low level radioactivity. Also aquatic life circulated through the cooling system can be killed.

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century. Click here to subscribe to Plenty.

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By Victoria Schlesinger, Plenty magazine

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6:08AM PDT on Aug 26, 2011

While the nuclear fission power systems remain incomplete, we need to research and develop alternative energy systems including wind farms, geothermal hotwell boiler installations, solar concentrator and PV systems, and ocean current/tide/wave/OTEC systems. Completion of nuclear fission power infrastructure requires development of equatorial skyrails to safely and economically deliver radioactive waste capsules into orbits that escape earth and go into solar intercept cometary. Additionally, plant safety concerns need to be dealt with. The other long term alternatives I mentioned have far fewer issues like this to deal with...

6:24PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

Quote from article YOUR RINGS OF EXPERIENCE, by Kryon through Lee Carroll, July 12, 2008, found in the Sedona Journal of Emergence, October 2008, page 6:

"You have many ways of creating power. One of the most complex and difficult to understand and build is the nuclear power plant. When you are finished with a five-year construction project, all you have is an expensive steam engine. For all nuclear power does is create heat. This creates steam to drive a generator in circles, which then creates your electricity. it is, therefore, a glorified steam engine.

There is another glorified steam engine called the magma of Earth. Everywhere that you drill gets hot. The further you go down, the hotter it gets. Did you ever think about that? If you want heat, all you have to do is drill for it. Now this is difficult because you have to go down a long way. it becomes more difficult because there are byproducts that are involved that complicate the safety and viability. The technology must be developed to tap the heat, to make a steam engine that is forever. Start by building these holes in the hot spots. The hot spots are defined as those places on the Earth where the magma is close to the surface. How about starting at the Pacific Rim, for instance? This is where all the volcanoes are and where many of your largest cities are. You will find all the power you need to create steam is right below your feet. Is it worth it to invest in this technology? That's up to

4:29PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

I say it's bad. Like I've posted on other icles of the same topic, wind, water and solar are better alternatives (when feasible) but nuclear is cheaper from what I've heard. But is it really worth the cost to humans, animals and the environment?

7:37PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

There is no debate. If you cannot put it in your back yard, then do not use it.
IF YOU DID NOT HEAR ME. THERE IS NO DEBATE. IF YOU CANNOT PUT IT IN YOUR BACK YARD, THEN DO NOT USE IT.

11:18AM PDT on Jun 19, 2010

Continuation of my former post:

That's up to you. How much longer do you wish to extract pieces and parts of the Earth, burn them up and put them in the atmosphere? Now what is that worth to you? So again we say, as clear as we've ever said it to you from the other side of the veil, that these power sources have always existed. They exist for you to create electricity to power your cities, to power your vehicles, and it has always been a free source ready for you to invest in how to capture it."

11:16AM PDT on Jun 19, 2010

Quote from article YOUR RINGS OF EXPERIENCE, by Kryon through Lee Carroll, July 12, 2008, found in the Sedona Journal of Emergence, October 2008, page 6:

"You have many ways of creating power. One of the most complex and difficult to understand and build is the nuclear power plant. When you are finished with a five-year construction project, all you have is an expensive steam engine. For all nuclear power does is create heat. This creates steam to drive a generator in circles, which then creates your electricity. it is, therefore, a glorified steam engine.

There is another glorified steam engine called the magma of Earth. Everywhere that you drill gets hot. The further you go down, the hotter it gets. Did you ever think about that? If you want heat, all you have to do is drill for it. Now this is difficult because you have to go down a long way. it becomes more difficult because there are byproducts that are involved that complicate the safety and viability. The technology must be developed to tap the heat, to make a steam engine that is forever. Start by building these holes in the hot spots. The hot spots are defined as those places on the Earth where the magma is close to the surface. How about starting at the Pacific Rim, for instance? This is where all the volcanoes are and where many of your largest cities are. You will find all the power you need to create steam is right below your feet. Is it worth it to invest in this technology? That's up to

10:57AM PDT on Jun 19, 2010

Welcome to Chernobyl!
http://villageofjoy.com/chernobyl-today-a-creepy-story-told-in-pictures/

5:49AM PDT on Oct 30, 2009

Up to date and really quality analysis of the LATEST information (outside the USA BOX), might lend some really interesting points on this subject, especially when we consider that many other high tech countries are building the latest nuclear energy plants all over their countries now.
The French have solved what the oil companies blocked over here with a 13 yr moritorium....and that very French design is being built in our North Carolina....hmmmm. Do you feel really up to date with your knowledge of this subject?

2:25PM PDT on Apr 30, 2009

No thanks to water intensive nuclear. Only about 3% of Earth's water is fresh water suitable for drinking. Causes for disasters at such plants include terrorists, off the chart earthquakes (maybe rare, but they do and can occur), irresponsible managing by employees (mistakes), etc...

Additionally, so much radioactive waste is produced that the government allows it to be used to irradiate our food. Yuck!

12:41AM PST on Jan 7, 2009

Quote from article YOUR RINGS OF EXPERIENCE, by Kryon through Lee Carroll, July 12, 2008, found in the Sedona Journal of Emergence, October 2008, page 6:

"You have many ways of creating power. One of the most complex and difficult to understand and build is the nuclear power plant. When you are finished with a five-year construction project, all you have is an expensive steam engine. For all nuclear power does is create heat. This creates steam to drive a generator in circles, which then creates your electricity. it is, therefore, a glorified steam engine.

There is another glorified steam engine called the magma of Earth. Everywhere that you drill gets hot. The further you go down, the hotter it gets. Did you ever think about that? If you want heat, all you have to do is drill for it. Now this is difficult because you have to go down a long way. it becomes more difficult because there are byproducts that are involved that complicate the safety and viability. The technology must be developed to tap the heat, to make a steam engine that is forever. Start by building these holes in the hot spots. The hot spots are defined as those places on the Earth where the magma is close to the surface. How about starting at the Pacific Rim, for instance? This is where all the volcanoes are and where many of your largest cities are. You will find all the power you need to create steam is right below your feet. Is it worth it to invest in this technology? That's up to

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