Nuclear Waste: A Waste of Time

November 27, 2010
By Dilemma GOLD, Allstn, New Hampshire
Dilemma GOLD, Allstn, New Hampshire
11 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Can I ask you a personal question? Do you support the use of nuclear energy? Whether your answer is yes or no, please take a moment to consider the reasoning behind it. Sure, it's cleaner than fossil fuels. It doesn't pollute as much. But, that's about the only advantage, so, is it really better? You know that nuclear power can be dangerous, that an explosion of any size could cause an immeasurable amount of damage. But have you ever stopped to wonder about what happens to it all when factory workers can no longer get any use out of the equipment? All that radioactive material has to go somewhere, right? And on top of creating radioactive waste, nuclear energy has harmful biological effects, can be very expensive, and gives terrorists an unsettling advantage. For the sake of our home, I oppose nuclear energy.

So why should you worry about nuclear waste? Besides the fact that it's just plain wrong to put so many lives in danger, it could very easily affect your community, health, or the health of people you care about. Because nuclear waste is incredibly dangerous, it needs to be disposed of carefully, according to the amount of energy the waste possesses. Proper disposal includes deep ocean disposal and deep geological burial. Deep ocean disposal requires the waste to be packed into two containers: the first to contain the waste, the second to keep out the water. In deep geological burial, the waste is placed in similar caskets, but they are buried deep underground, instead of in water. While the containers in both methods are said to be “leak-proof” there is really no way to be certain. Imagine what would happen if the waste leaked into the water stream! It would cause devastation to both plant and animal life. Another thing to keep in mind when disposing of waste, is how out-of-the-way it will actually be. It needs to be safe from floods, earthquakes, terrorists, etc. Depending on how radioactive the waste is, it could stay in the ground for any amount of time; from decades to millennium! Countries such as the U.S., China, and the U.K. Are running out of space to put the radioactive waste. In just a few short years, many places will need to find alternative disposal techniques and/or locations. Will your community be next?

We've all heard stories about how radiation poisoning will give you cancer, mutilate body parts, kill you, etc. But how does it do that, exactly? Well, when radiation enters a cell, it changes the DNA “blueprint”. The amino acid that controls cell reproduction is damaged, causing the cell to split uncontrollably. The damaged “blueprint” is copied to the new cells, which create new damaged cells, and so on, eventually causing cancer. Another way radiation damages cells is by ripping through them, tearing them up. Again, these damaged cells reproduce more damaged cells , creating cancer, tumors, etc. Being exposed to radiation can be instant death or slow suffering, depending on how much you receive and how long you are exposed to it.

Did you know that between 1945 and 1990 $8.07 trillion were spent on nuclear energy for military use alone? If we could stack that amount in one dollar bills, it could reach the moon and almost back again! Add this to the cost of mining the uranium, transportation, factory operation, and waste management fees. That's an astounding, almost incomprehensible amount of money! And that's still only for the military. What about the many other uses of nuclear energy? That money could have been spent on better causes like finding cures for illnesses, health insurance, and environmental cleanup.

The last point that I would like to bring to your attention is the advantages nuclear energy gives to terrorists. With all these nuclear power plants and waste sites, terrorists have more ways than ever to, well, terrorize! An attack with heavy ammunition could easily cause a power plant meltdown. Terrorists could unearth nuclear waste, spreading the radioactive materials over miles. Also, if terrorists were to create their own nuclear weapons, defense against them would become almost hopeless. The devastation any of these events would cause is horrifying to consider. But just think about the attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki! It's happened before and it can most certainly happen again.

Now that you have been introduced to the darker side of nuclear energy, what's you opinion on it? Do you oppose it, or condone it? I suppose as long as we are all entitled to our own opinions, there's really no right or wrong answer. But, is it really worth it? Personally, I think it's unethical to put the lives of so many at risk. And don't forget the other beings who have just as much right to live as you do. The other beings we share this planet with. And what of this planet? Our beloved home that supports life, that gives us everything we have. Are we just going to toss her aside, dig her up, and bury our trash within her? Talk about thankless! Now let me ask you one more time, do you agree with the use of nuclear energy?

The author's comments:
an opinionated report for science class

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.

Parkland Book