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Nuclear Wastes And Its Hazards

Feb 22, 2010

The Hazards of Nuclear Power
Author : One

About 80 percent of the American people believes generating electricity from nuclear power plants than from coal is too dangerous. But Scientific researches have proven that power generated coal is many times more dangerous than nuclear wastes. Even Henry Kendall, working as director of the anti-nuclear lobbying group Union, and anti-nuclear activist Ralph Nader, in private, concede this. But the scientists have proved that generating power by nuclear power plants are more safer than by coal plants.

There is widespread misunderstanding of the consequences of a fuel meltdown. We often hear that it would kill tens of thousands of people and contaminate a whole state, but such statements are proven to be wrong statements.

The worst meltdown accident normally considered would cause 45,000 extra cancer deaths in a population of ten million over 50 years. For each of these ten million, the risk of dying from cancer would rise by only 2.5 percent, which would hardly be detectable. The present risk in different states varies between 16 percent and 24 percent, so the added cancer risk in moving from one state to another is often many times larger than the added risk from such a nuclear accident.

According to PRA, 98 percent of all meltdowns would cause no detectable fatalities, the average number for all meltdowns is ten, and the worst meltdown in the analyses (1 1-in-100,000 occurrence) would cause 3,500. But, the largest coal-related incident to date was an air pollution episode in London in 1952 that cased 3,500 fatalities within a few days. Thus, as far as detectable fatalities are concerned, the worst nuclear accident in 100,000 meltdowns has already been equaled by coal burning.

It is calculated by PRA that an average of 0.02 fatalities per plant-year; UCS predicts 2.4. Even the latter figure is less than one-tenth the 25 fatalities per plant-year due to air pollution from coal-burning electricity generation.

The whole earth can be said to be contaminated because there is natural radioactivity everywhere. But if we use the internationally accepted definition of the level that calls for remedial action, the worst meltdown normally considered (one in 10,000) would contaminate an area equal to a circle 60 miles in diameter. About 90 percent of this could be easily decontaminated by use of fire hoses and plowing open fields, so the area where relation of people is necessary would be equal to that of a circle 20 miles across. Forced relocation of people is not catastrophic.

It occurs when new dams permanently flood large areas, in highway construction, in urban redevelopment, etc. In such situations the major consideration is the cost of relocating people. Therefore, it seems reasonable to consider land contamination by a nuclear accident on the basis of its monetary cost.

In the worst 0.01 percent of accidents, the cost could exceed $30 billion, but the average cost for all meltdowns would be $200 million. Air pollution from coal burning also does property damage, estimated in the range of $1 billion per year.14 At an average of $200 million per meltdown, it would take a reactor meltdown every two months to be as costly as the property damage from coal burning.

How Dangerous Is Nuclear Radiation?

Is being struck by a particle of radiation a terrible tragedy? No. Every person is struck by about a million particles of radiation every minute from natural sources. (The rate varies with geography and other factors.) This rate is hundreds of times greater than our exposure to radiation from the nuclear power industry. So is our average exposure to radiation from medical X-rays.

Although a single particle of radiation can cause cancer, the chance it will do so is only about one in 30 quadrillion. Hence, the million particles that strike us each minute have only one chance in 30 billion of causing a cancer. A human lifespan is about 40 million minutes; thus, all of the natural radiation to which we are exposed has about one chance in 700 of causing a cancer. Since our overall chance of dying from cancer is one in five, only one in 140 of all cancers may be due to natural radiation. The average exposure from a nuclear power plan to those who live closest to it is about 1 percent of the exposure to natural radiation; hence, if they live there for a lifetime, there is perhaps once chance in 70,000 (1/100th the chance from natural radiation and 1/14,000 the chance from all causes) that they will die of cancer as a result of exposure to its radiation.

Scientific Basis for Risk Estimates

Table 1: Deaths per 1,000 MW plant per year of operation due to wastes
SourceNext 500 years Millions of years
-- high-level waste0.00010.02
-- radon emissions-0.0650-450
-- low-level waste0.00010.0004
-- total-0.0648-450
-- air pollution2525
-- radon emissions0.1130
-- cancer-causing chemicals0.570
-- total25.61125
Solar photovoltaics:
-- coal for materials0.83.7
-- cadmium sulfide (if used)0.880
-- total1.683.7

Alternatives to nuclear electricity

No technology is absolutely safe or without environmental effects. We should therefore compare the production of electricity from nuclear energy with the other options available to us. Burning coal in power stations is still the major source of electricity worldwide, followed by hydro, uranium and gas.

A 1000 MWe light water reactor uses about 25 tonnes of enriched uranium a year, requiring the mining of some 50,000 tonnes of uranium ore. By comparison, a 1000 MWe coal-fired power station requires the mining, transportation, storage and burning of about 3.2 million tonnes of black coal per year. This creates around 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide not to mention sulfur dioxide, depending on the particular coal. Solid wastes from a coal-fired power station can be substantial and cause environmental and health damage. (See also Uranium, Electricity and the Greenhouse Effect in this series)

So, there is not much to worry about nuclear wastes. But we must have to use electricity in a efficient way.



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February 28, 2010 at 11:43 PM

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February 28, 2010 at 11:43 PM
wyne said...

Very informative!Well nuclear is so powerful and very efficient source of power or energy but very risky

March 2, 2010 at 10:31 AM
Web Blog Bisnis said...

which I fear is not beneficial, but the danger! would benefit more than the danger, or just the opposite .. God help us please...

March 4, 2010 at 8:49 AM
Party, Fashion, Music, Sport said...

Very nice information!
Thanks for your visit. Wish you a happy Monday!

March 15, 2010 at 5:01 AM
Ana Cristina said...

Hello, visiting you back. Have a very nice Friday. Happy blogging and keep in touch!

March 25, 2010 at 5:40 PM
lina@happy family said...

I prefer nature power...

September 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM

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