Nuclear and Radiation Accidents
Since the beginning of the Atomic Age, the use of nuclear energy technologies has been accompanied by numerous crises and persistent public health concerns. Currently, nuclear power has become an indispensable part in the ongoing search for alternative energy sources. By “January 2011, 442 nuclear power plants operated globally to supply a total of 400,000 megawatts of energy, or roughly 14% of the total global energy supply”(Wisconsin Institute par.2). Yet with the expansion of nuclear power, the impact of potential nuclear power plant breakdowns on the environment and public health, in particular due to radiation exposure for people living near plants, have been key concerns for governmental agencies and civilians alike. In the past 40 years, the world has seen three disastrous nuclear accidents-The short and long-term health risks associated with such disasters and the subsequent environmental remediation efforts all serve as important lessons and warnings for impending developments in nuclear power.
Conversely, should nuclear threats to public health prove unavoidable, swift action should be taken to limit long-term environmental degradations through comprehensive waste disposal and remediation. Even with existing technologies in nuclear waste disposal, clean-up following a nuclear disaster still occurs at a painstaking rate. Three Mile Island “took 14 years (1979-1993); Chernobyl will take 79 years (1986-2065)”(Discovery News par.4). Fukushima Daiichi? Besides immense human health impacts, nuclear accidents inflicts irreversible damage on the environment. Still under high surveillance today, the 19-mile Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Exclusion Zone remains a very painful reminder of permanent ecosystem damage caused by delays in remedial initiatives. Several years after the accident, the Soviet government succeeded in evacuating most populations near Chernobyl but did not make a clear effort towards environmental cleanup....
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