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Nuclear Waste

By | November 2007
Page 1 of 7
Nuclear power is widely utilized in the world today. It accounts for about twenty percent of the electricity generated in the United States and about sixteen percent of the electricity generated in the world. Over the last fifty years, nuclear power has gone from the drawing board to more than four hundred state of the art nuclear power plants operating around the world today. An unfortunate consequence of this rise in nuclear produced energy has been a dramatic increase in nuclear waste. When compared to other methods of power generation, nuclear power appears to be very cost effective and efficient. This is because of the relatively small amount of fuel required to generate the electricity. However, the small amount, and relatively cheap cost, of the fuel can be deceiving. Spent fuel cannot simply be discarded or thrown away. Because of the radioactivity of the spent fuel, it must be handled with great care and stored properly to prevent any radioactive contamination from escaping into the environment. The cost of this handling and disposal greatly increases the overall cost of nuclear energy. The safety of nuclear power plants is often questioned. Since the horrible disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the public has shied away from these potentially dangerous nuclear plants. These accidents are also one of the main reasons why no nuclear power plant has been built in the United States in over 20 years. In the time since these catastrophic accidents, great care has been taken to implement safety systems in today's nuclear power plants. The safety systems are state of the art and will virtually prevent any chance of a future nuclear accident. The systems used are passive, which do not require operator intervention to work properly. Most plants can safely operate with no operators for several months. The issue of safety, with regard to nuclear power plants, has basically been solved. However, there still exists a large problem, nuclear waste....

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