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Here’s Why We Must Say No To Nuclear!

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By Sonakshi Samtani:

Nuclear energy is very conveniently considered to be a clean source of energy in today’s day and age of deteriorating fossil fuel reserves. However, it is even more conveniently ignored that there are numerous repercussions of harnessing energy through nuclear power plants.

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Nuclear power plant projects require millions of dollars as investment as the area required is vast, and high setting up and operating costs further add to the total outlay. Contrary to nuclear projects, solar, wind and hydro power projects are cheaper and more easily accessible to regions that have such natural resources in abundance. Moreover, nuclear power plants require enormous amounts of water during the process of nuclear fission since it generates huge amounts of heat. Thus, a lot of water is wasted in the process. In addition to this, the radioactive waste is very hazardous and the international community hasn’t been able to give a convincing solution enabling proper disposal of radioactive waste.

Uranium and other radioactive material needs to be stored very carefully in warehouses and the risk of leakage or mishandling is very hazardous since it wouldn’t just lead to immediate casualties but would also end up in rendering the future generations with disabilities and deformities.

Powerful countries like the United States of America find it extremely offensive when countries that might be a potential threat get their hands on any kind of nuclear technology. It is very evident with the instance of Iran developing nuclear technology and the consequent EU and US sanctions of Iran which have led to a deteriorating situation in Iran’s economy. While Israel has a policy of Nuclear Opacity (ambiguity on the possession of nuclear weapons technology), it is often believed to possess a full-fledged nuclear weapons program, especially targeted against the Islamic Republic of Iran which is Israel’s staunch enemy in the Middle East. It is also suggested that due to its close relations with Israel, the U.S.A. sternly disagrees with any kind of nuclear technology associated with Iran. In this case the development of a nuclear program has cost a lot to Iran’s domestic economy.

Therefore, the possibility of countries developing a nuclear weapons program under the disguise of a peaceful nuclear program cannot be ignored, especially with a struggling power balance in the current geopolitical situation. There are numerous cheaper and sustainable alternatives to nuclear energy such as solar power plants, hydro power plants and windmills. Depending on the regional abundance, these natural resources can be utilized to meet our ever growing demand for energy. Especially countries like India which possess plentiful amounts of these resources, developing such technologies is a more viable option, unlike nuclear energy which would involve excessive amounts of time and money. Given the current situation of India, investing in renewable unconventional sources of energy and educating the masses about the feasibility of such options would most definitely be the best bet.

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  1. UDIT GARG

    Miss Sonakshi, I regret to say but your article is based on false facts and an incomplete research! I am an engineering student with major in nuclear power generation! I pity the education system of our country that a 3rd year philosophy student like you is writing this about nuclear energy. Well to clear your thoughts I would like to bring to your notice that the unconventional power sources you are talking about are not even dependable to curb the energy requirements of the country! You will be fascinated to know that the cost of putting up a niclear power plant is less than the the cost of starting a solar farm! Plus apart from states like rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, and few more states doesn’t posses enought solar strength that can be used for energy production! And for hydel power! We recently saw one of its disadvantage in uttrakhand disaster! Thirdly do you even know what wind speed is required for the dynamo of the wind farm to produce electricity!! I have myself been to a nuclear power plant, have learned and I know it from heart! Well nuclear technology is not completely developed till now but it’s much safer and for your kind information, to eradicate nuclear fuel in an environmentally safe manner , nuclear power plants do have processes for that! To remove radiation from nuclear fuel the fuel rods are kept in spent fuel pool till the radiation levels drops to negligible levels! Even India is making a technology in chennai nuclear power plant that will use the fuel again and again, which is recycling of nuclear fuel by itself! Well nuclear energy is the future of energy requirements.

    1. Raj

      It is the sad socialist academic climate that is brain-washing young people into believing themselves to be the elites who will dictate how the “great unwashed masses” will live. Many environmental campaigns have turned into anti-USA, anti-capitalism campaigns that spread fear and propaganda in order to bring Govt. and citizens to heel.

  2. Sonakshi Samtani

    Well Mr. Udit, it is great to read a reply from someone who has majored in this subject. For starters, I clearly mentioned that the development of natural renewable sources of energy depends on regional abundance. I nowhere tried to imply that one kind of energy resource would suffice for the entire country or that all the regions of the country are capable of harnessing wind, solar and hydro electricity at a time.

    While I understand how attached you are to the prospect of nuclear energy, I would like to draw your attention to the multiple repercussions of harnessing nuclear energy. there is the significant issue of radioactive waste, which isn’t biodegradable and is extremely dangerous. Most plants store nuclear waste in steel-lined concrete basins filled with water, where it remains radioactive for thousands of years. However, there is no black and white answer when it comes to cost effectiveness of nuclear power plants. Every one has an opinion and in my opinion, a country like India which is already battling several socio-economic problems, investing exorbitant amounts in constructing and maintaining nuclear power plants is not a viable option, In addition to that the storage and disposal of radioactive material is a troublesome prospect. It is expensive and can be very hazardous. If you are citing the Uttarakhand disaster to argue against hydro electricity, you should keep in mind the very recent Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Chernobyl disaster back in 1986.

    India doesn’t have an infinte supply of uranium, naturally we have to import it in case we pursue this option further. In my opinion, exploring other options wouldn’t do much harm to our country which isn’t exactly seeing the most sunny days in the international economy. Nuclear radiation, however has proved to be hazardous to health and people living in the vicinity of nuclear reactors are more prone to cancer than the others.

    Each alternative comes with certain pros and cons, making the best choice would mean choosing the lesser of two evils, I find solar, wind and hydro energy to be better choices

    In addition to that, nuclear power plants require skilled labour, we can’t take it as a blanket truth that developing economies like India would benefit in the long run from nuclear power, the situation has to be assessed from multiple perspectives.

    As a third year Philosophy student I might not have learnt as much as you have about nuclear energy but I am surely open to viewpoints from people within and outside of my stream of study. And based on what common sense and my little research tells me, I can’t accept it as a blanket truth that a source like nuclear energy would continue being harnessed in the future without its own set of cons.

    And since you stand against any other renewable source of energy, I advice you to read up a little on how far these energy sources have been developed in your country.

    Indian Wind Energy Association http://www.inwea.org/

    Solar Energy Society of India http://www.sesi.in/

    Indian Renewable Energy Development Association http://www.ireda.gov.in/forms/contentpage.aspx?lid=1340

    Ministry of New and Renewable Energy http://www.mnre.gov.in/

    1. Raj

      I would like to respond to your points :

      – The amount of radioactive wastes that nuclear powerplants release is miniscule (per watt generated) compared to other conventional sources. Furthermore, it is localized. Unlike air/water pollution or greenshouse gases which dissapate, nuclear waste can be captured and stored easily.

      – You can come up with just 3 so-called nuke disasters i.e. Chernobyl , 3 Mile Island and Fukishima since nuclear energy started like 50+ years back. How many did these actually kill directly combined?
      And what is the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed 20K people directly? The Bhopal Gas disaster which had nothing to do with nuclear waste.
      Indirectly, Chernobyl did kill many people because the collapsing Soviet Union sent in disaster management people without any protective gear. Today things are much better and safer.
      But Indirectly, air pollution, mining accidents have killed far more than (per watt generated) over the last 50+ years

      – Regarding costs, yes it is currently more but exorbitantly huge. But as we scale up and improve technologies, it will come down. This is akin to costs of machines going down which allowed the decline of human and even animal slavery. Imagine the amount of horsedung we would have if we replaced all the cars with their horse-power equivalent number of horses.

      – India has a huge amount of Thorium and we can import more Uranuim if we want. Thanks to the Cold War, there are tons of purified uranium with USA and former USSR and they are best diluted and used for powerplants

      – People living closer to coal plants and industries are at a far higher risk of cancer than nuclear power plants which are heavily monitored for dangerous radiation and also their wastes are very carefully disposed off. It is unfair to have crazy high standards for nuclear energy but lax standards for everyone else. But even then the nuclear industry meets these standards.

      – Solar is a very weak form of energy because even at 100% efficiency you can’t get more than the irradiance amount . Not to mention the costs involved in making these panels. But its good as a supplementary source
      – Wind is also weak, erratic and localized. But its good as a supplementary source
      – Hydro is powerful , but it isnt a great idea in a densely populated country due to the displacement involved,.

      Benefits of nuclear energy :
      – Abundance of fuel in the form of ultra-pure weapons grade uranium and plutonium. Not to mention large quantities of thorium and other ores.
      – 1 Kg of weapons grade uranium yields two to three million (yes that’s million!) times the energy from 1 Kg of coal or oil. And there are currently 2 million Kgs of that in the world lying in warheads, power plants, submarines etc. You can’t ignore this huge pile of fuel.
      – Nuclear energy cycle is inherently unstable and burns out out if not properly regulated. Since the fuel is quite diluted, it can not lead to a nuclear explosion like Hiroshima . And even if do put weapons grade in a nuclear reactor , it STILL won’t blow up. In order to have a nuclear explosion you need to have a very controlled explosion which compresses the nuclear material from all sides very rapidly and very precisely. All nuclear power plant accidents have been steam explosions , not nuclear explosions.
      On the contrary, coal and oil are inherently unstable since they like to burn themselves.
      – Nuclear powerplants aren’t very different from coal powerplants. In both of them there is some “thing” that heats water , makes it into steam, and the steam turns the turbines which generates electricity. Only the “burning coal” part is replaced a more sophisticated and somewhat expensive nuclear fuel rod assembly. But the vast majority of the powerplant is pretty much the same for both coal and nuclear types.
      What actually raises the cost is the vastly advanced safety standards that nuclear powerplants must adhere to and which coal doesn’t need to. Coal power wont be so cheap if you apply the same standards.
      – Potential for nuclear fusion which will allow for generating far more energy without the radioactive wastes

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