The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants

The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants

The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants

The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants

Excerpt

The Synopsis which follows treats the hazards of nuclear reactor accidents. Treatment of this subject is not meant to suggest, however, that nuclear reactors pose the greatest risk of harm to the public and the environment, since it is difficult to assign relative risks. As A. De Volpi of Argonne National Laboratory] has well reminded us, there are other health and safety risks, and actual damage to the quality of life, that demand equal attention. He lists the risk of nuclear war; the risks of nuclear weapon accidents, including minor explosions that would disperse toxic plutonium radioactivity over the land; and the "most contaminating culprits," "chemical and biological waste discharges from municipalities, homes, and industry." I would add motor-vehicle smog and noise, among other damages to the quality of life. In regard to conventional pollution, nuclear power can be a blessing; barring accidents and seepage of harmful amounts of radioactive waste materials into the environment, nuclear power plants could solve both the "energy crisis" and the air pollution problem in our cities. The energy resource in our reserves of uranium ore can last us about one thousand years, provided the "breeder" reactor is safe and practical; and since nuclear plants give off no noisome gases, such as the hydrocarbons and sulfur dioxide that are emitted by fossil-fueled power plants, they may well solve the air pollution problem. (However, nuclear power would have to replace fossil fuels, not just supplement them, if this benefit is to be . . .

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