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Is It True: That Nuclear Energy Is Cheap And Best?

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By Abhishek Jha:

What is Nuclear/Atomic Energy?

One will remember from high school science classes that all the matter in the world is made up of tiny particles called atoms. The energy that is derived from reactions occurring in the nucleus of this atom is what we call nuclear or atomic energy. Those who sleepwalked through high school might now wake up fearing that we have got terribly radioactive material all around us and that we are all going to die. But fret not, because some kind professors have put their stuff on the internet so that you don’t have trouble sleeping after school.

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Popular Perceptions of Nuclear Energy

Burning coal and petroleum creates a lot of pollution and makes greenhouse gases (GHGs) that lead to global warming. Also, global reserves of coal and petroleum being limited, nuclear energy is often touted as an alternative. A 1000 MW plant requires only about 3.2 kg of fuel per day. Also, it doesn’t pump those GHGs. Hence, it’s popularly believed to be a cheap and clean energy source.

So Why Don’t We Switch Completely To Nuclear Energy?

A nuclear energy plant can work only if a high concentration of radioactive material is brought together, which is a nightmare for everybody. Exposure to nuclear radiation can cause anything from burns and vomiting to cancer and death. Nuclear energy production, therefore, requires thick gloves, deep pockets, and a lot of waiting. And although it doesn’t pump GHGs into the atmosphere, the used fuel is radioactive and requires safe dumping. In fact, just closing a nuclear energy plant requires about 10% of money required to set it up. This construction cost in itself is only about 2000 crores per year for a 440 MW plant, just about double of a similar capacity coal power plant.

And while a lot of care is taken in making the plant safe, a natural disaster like an earthquake or tsunami can always wreck the plant, in which case it is deadlier than any other kind of power plant. Remember Fukushima? And we haven’t yet considered countries using the import of radioactive materials for power plants as cover for nuclear weapons’ manufacture or terrorists trying to piggyback on the radioactive waste.

The high cost and risks involved has already got even big producers of nuclear power backing it out. Small hydro power plants, which require no money to be spent on the fuel (which is water), are an excellent avenue for exploration. Solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power plants are other renewable resources that are clean, cost nothing for fuel, and can never be as harmful as a nuclear power plant. Nuclear energy is very much a cigarette. Both leave you high and dry.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sristi

    Though you need expenses to produce nuclear energy, but its something which we must have. And our NPCIL scientists are working to reduce risks as much as possible, especially to keep the plant safe from any natural disaster, and lessons were actually taken by Fukushima.
    And no one would build a nuclear power plant which is prone to disasters. The plants are built on places which is the most safe place. And actually the area around a plant is not like a desert, many people live near it (employees) and these places are beautiful with green plants all around and clean and well developed. Plus, many people depend on nuclear power, you cannot just shut It down and leave many people unemployed and millions of people deprived from electricity!

    &&&& do you know how many people are vacated to build those ‘small hydropower plants’?

    And talking about solar, wing etc. I agree with you on that point.

    Have a look here too :- http://www.npcil.nic.in/main/environment.aspx

  2. Dhruwat

    C’mon YKA, I was expecting better than this from you.
    I was expecting more persuasive content about why we need to be sceptical on Nuclear energy when I read the article lede, but I was to be disappointed.
    The author should read up about the number of deaths caused by deaths caused by power plants producing electricty from other energy sources when he says that Nuclear plant failure cause the most damage.
    The fact is that hydel power causes far greater number of deaths when they fail.
    In thermal power, all power plants apart from natural gas are said to cause far greater deaths through the havoc they play with the green house gases.
    The author should read up about Banqiao dam failure that caused deaths in excess of 171000 (One lakh Seven one Thousand!).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

    In comparison, noone has yet died due to Fukushima.
    And according UN and WHO reports, the number of deaths due to Chernobyl were actually less than 4000 and may be as less as 50.
    You can find the links the following links for your reference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_the_Chernobyl_disaster#Chernobyl_Forum_report_and_criticisms
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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