Nuclear Disasters: the Prevention and Aftermath

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Running Head: NUCLEAR DISASTERS

Nuclear Disasters:
The Prevention and Aftermath

Katey Thomas
NMT, English 111-04
December 7, 2012

Abstract

This paper discusses nuclear disasters and their permanent scar on society. The paper starts by describing the transition society is making to nuclear power in order to meet stated goals for cutting carbon emissions. Also, the possibility of a nuclear accident occurring is explained. Next, the paper explains the events of the three most well-known nuclear disasters of all time: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi. The paper continues with the aftermaths of the three accidents. The aftermath includes: the health effects on the refugees and workers, the economic struggle to make up for the lost energy, and the future public outlook on nuclear energy.

Introduction and Background

Nuclear engineering is an expanding field with everybody desiring to “go green” and cut carbon emissions to slow global warming. With the climate change, many countries are dedicating themselves to cutting back on carbon emissions, which usually includes an increase in nuclear power. But the nuclear power tends to scare the public away from the possibility as a result of nuclear disasters. These nuclear disasters led to the death of thousands of people from anywhere in the proximity of a day to decades later. The major issue with nuclear energy is the fear people have associated with it because they are not fully educated on the topic and simply fear what they do not understand. Going Green

As the knowledge of global warming is spreading across the globe, many countries are deciding to cut back on carbon emissions by meeting certain goals every few years up until they meet the final goal in the far future. The UK passed an act called the Climate Change Act 2008 which “legally commits the Government to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by 35% by 2020 and by 80% before 2050” (Goodfellow et al., 2011). So to meet these ambitious goals, nuclear power plants are on the rise. Nuclear power plants generate power from the steam, which makes them ideal for cutting back the carbon emissions.

Japan made similar goals to those as of the United Kingdom for the cut back of carbon emissions in the future. The long term goals for Japan are to cut their carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 and another 80% by 2050 (Huenteler et al., 2012). So with this goal in mind, the Japanese energy indirectly concentrated on nuclear energy.

Nuclear Disasters

Probability

Calculations have been conducted to determine the most accurate number as to the safety of nuclear power plants. The calculations take into account the natural disasters, safety procedures, emergency procedures, and also the strength of the structure itself to withstand the elements as best as possible. Natural disasters, especially a disaster strong enough to render the integrity of the structure, are rare. Plus, engineers are working every day to improve upon the structures and functions of the nuclear reactors to prevent anything from happening, no matter how severe. Scientists have calculated that the chance of an extreme risk disaster – one that affects the public and environment short-term and long-term – is about 1 x 10-7. The chance of being struck by lightning in the USA, which is 4.2 x 10-7, is greater than the chance of dying in a nuclear disaster (Goodfellow et al., 2011).

Even though the chances of dying as a result of a nuclear disaster are extremely low, the public does not believe so. In order to incorporate the public’s point of view into the overall risk of death, scientists developed two different types of risk: calculated and perceived. Calculated risk takes into account the mathematical possibilities of such events to occur. The equation’s coefficients represent the probability of an occurrence of an adverse event and the severity of the consequence of such adverse event. Perceived risk takes into...
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