Nuclear Power Plants! Advantages & Disadvantages

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1 ! Pro: Coal-fired power plants, like this one emit pollutants that can contribute to climate change, decreased air quality and acid rain. Compared to coal, nuclear power production results in very little atmospheric pollution. Nuclear Power Plants! Advantages & Disadvantages In 2010, massive fossil fuel emissions brought the air quality in Hong Kong dangerously low; residents were advised to remain indoors for safety. Nuclear power plants won't create smog like this. Con: Hopefully, that yellow barrel prop is fake. Many protesters, like these in Berlin, oppose nuclear power because its production leaves behind a significant amount of dangerous radioactive waste. Nuclear waste must be sealed underground in protected chambers. This former salt mine in Remlingen, Germany, held nuclear waste for decades before structural concerns forced the government to relocate the deadly substances. Not an enviable task.

2 Where will this waste go? A worker walks by barrels containing potentially radioactive material at the former Rheinsberg nuclear power plant in Rheinsberg, Germany, in The plant was built in 1966 and operated until It's being dismantled over a 19- year period. Pro: While fossil fuels may be harmful to the environment, they are also a limited resource, and much of our current technology depends on them. Nuclear power preserves fossil fuels for cars and airplanes. Pro/Con: Nuclear reactors consume radioactive uranium ore. Like oil or coal, uranium is a limited resource, but it appears to be somewhat abundant, and estimates of its abundance are on the rise. Read on for the negative effects of radioactivity. Con: Radioactive materials, which are used in nuclear weapons and reactors alike, can cause gruesome radiation poisoning. This goat received doses of radiation from U.S. atomic testing at the Bikini Atoll in Such radiation doesn't just come from bombs, though.

3 At the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, two researchers were killed on two separate occasions in 1945 and 1946 by radiation poisoning from accidents involving the exact same plutonium core, which was thereafter nicknamed the "demon core." Pro: While nuclear plants are somewhat expensive to build, a single facility can provide massive output for years. When this picture was taken in 2000, nuclear power accounted for almost 20 percent of all the city lights you see within the United States. Pro: Reliable nuclear technology is already developed. No new innovations are needed to create nuclear reactors that are relatively safe and efficient. Above, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation opens a new research reactor in 2007.

4 Con: Nuclear reactors run the risk of suffering meltdowns. The worst meltdown in history occurred in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. This photo, taken in 2006, shows a Chernobyl sign in the nowdeserted area. This amusement park in Pripyat sits empty. Experts predict that radioactive contaminants in the Chernobyl area will make the town uninhabitable for centuries to come Because of the danger presented by leaked radioactive materials, the nearby town of Pripyat was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster. Buildings like this preschool still remain abandoned. The tsunami that followed on the heels of a fateful earthquake in March 2011 damaged backup generators at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, resulting in a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and radioactive leakages. The event caused considerable damage.

5 The results of a nuclear disaster don't just go away. A year after the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the effects of the disaster are still part of nearby residents' daily lives. Here, a doctor prepares a patient for a full-body radiation screening. Cold War tensions became all the more threatening as the United States and the USSR increased their nuclear stockpiles over the decades. More recently, nuclear weapons like this U.S. While current plants rely on fission reactions, some say the future lies in accessing the power of nuclear fusion. The Japanesemade JT-60 may help researchers create and contain the super-heated plasma environment needed to harness fusion power. The future of nuclear power may be controversial, but today, more than 400 nuclear power plants are located in 30 countries across the globe, and for better or worse, this power source isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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