Nuclear Energy Externalities

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Sophia Domeyko
Economics I
Mr. Tiffany
April 26, 2013

Nuclear Energy Externalities

Nuclear power is a concept that has been evolving and has become a key in the race for the newest and best source of renewable energy. Nuclear power generation involves the use of large nuclear fission reactors that generate electricity through fission reactions and heat generation. Nuclear energy has many positive externalities but in the past the technology has proven that it has major downfalls as well. For this reason only about 5% of the power in the world is generated from nuclear sources. This nuclear power is only produced in some of the richest countries due to the fact that the initial investment into producing nuclear energy is extremely high and the gains of energy are sometimes not worth the investment in the advanced technology. Nuclear power can be a good source of power, provided the country has the funds available and resources to acquire nuclear material and process it to create energy. The biggest negative externality associated with nuclear power is disasters. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986 was a nuclear meltdown that occurred in on of the reactors at the plant. It resulted in deadly nuclear material leaking out of the plant and into the ground and air of surrounding areas. A huge radius around the plant remains closed to this day. With the high costs associated with entering the nuclear market, and the dangers the technology pose to the public, a meltdown or related nuclear accident is an astoundingly large and dangerous negative externality. In the case of a meltdown the surrounding areas are subject to radiation and cleanup is extremely expensive and costs the nation and the population hundreds of millions. Many believe that it is just not worth the risk to integrate nuclear power into their nations and lives.

The Chernobyl incident leads to the radiation poisoning death of thousands and destroyed a huge amount of land in...
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