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The Cons of Nuclear Reactors

The Cons of Nuclear Reactors

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The Cons of Nuclear Reactors

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  1. The Cons of Nuclear Reactors By Michelle Trojanowsky

  2. Threats Posed by Nuclear Reactors • Terrorism • The Production of Radioactive Materials • Nuclear Proliferation • Nuclear Accidents • High Costs

  3. Terrorism • Cooling pools • 10 to 30 times more radioactive material than in reactor core • Transportation • More than 80,000 tons of highly radioactive waste waiting for transportation • Traveling through 39 states on public roads and railway lines for next 25 years

  4. Production of Radioactive Materials • Unregulated Isotopes: • Krypton, Xenon, Argon • Inhaled • emit gamma radiation • Cause genetic disease • Tritium • Gas that combines w/ O, forms radioactive water • mutagenic

  5. Four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power plants: 1. Iodine 131 • Thyroid cancer 2. Strontium 90 • Breast cancer, bone cancer, leukemia 3. Cesium 137 • Sarcoma (muscle cancer) 4. Plutonium 239 • One-millionth gram is carcinogenic • More than 200 kg made annually in EACH power plant • Liver cancer, bone cancer, blood malignancies, lung cancer, congenital deformities, testicular cancer, genetic diseases • Lasts for 500,000 years • Fuel for nuclear weapons

  6. Storage? • Waste remains toxic for thousands of years • Cannot detoxify waste • No long-term repository in US after 20 years of trying • Blocked by politics

  7. Nuclear Proliferation • Plutonium • Fuel for nuclear weapons • Only 5 kg to make a bomb • Each reactor makes over 200 kg every year • Any country with a nuclear power plant = 40 bombs per year

  8. Nuclear Accidents • Numerous accidents in US alone • Nearly 200 documented since 1986 • 3 Mile Island • Chernobyl

  9. Example Accidents • August 21, 1945 – Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA • Accidental criticality. 1 Death • October 8–12, 1957 – Sellafield, Cumbria, UK – Windscale Fire. • Reactor core fire • December 30, 1958 – Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA • Accidental criticality. 1 Death • October 1988 – Rocky Flats in Colorado • safety violations • April 6, 1993 - Tomsk-7 Siberian Chemical Enterprise - Tomsk, Russia • Explosive mechanical failure in a reaction vessel • June, 1999 - Shika Nuclear Power Plant- Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan • Control rod malfunction • September 30, 1999 – Reprocessing Facility in Tokaimura Japan • Accidental Criticality. 2 Deaths • April 10, 2003 - Paks Nuclear Reactor -Paks, Hungary • Fuel damaged • April 19, 2005 – Thorp Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant- Sellafield, UK • Nuclear material leak • November 2005 — Excelon’s Braidwood Station- - Braidwood, Illinois • Nuclear material leak • March 6, 2006 —Nuclear Fuel Services Erwin Plant- Erwin, Tennessee • Nuclear material leak • August, 2007 Clinton, Michigan- Theft of nuclear sources

  10. Three Mile Island • March 28, 1979 • Partial core meltdown • Most significant accident in history of American commercial nuclear power generating industry • Resulted in release of significant amount of radioactivity to environment • 25,000 people lived within 5 miles of the site

  11. Chernobyl • Highly radioactive fallout sent over western Russia, Europe and eastern North America • 30-40 times more fallout than Hiroshima • 336,000 people evacuated • 60% of radioactive fallout landed in Belarus • More than 2000 children had thyroids removed for thyroid cancer • Could have resulted in additional 200,000 deaths between 1990 and 2004

  12. High Costs • Nuclear power plants cost just as much as coal plants • Difference between cost estimates and final costs for 75 reactors: • original estimate = $45billion • final cost = $145billion • Watts Bar reactor • Industry cannot cover own costs • Uranium enrichment subsidized • Industry pays only 2% of liability costs • Decommissioning all existing US nuclear reactors = $33 billion • Storage of radioactive waste

  13. Summary • Terrorism and nuclear accidents would result in catastrophic releases of lethal radioactive material on American soil • Political barriers to construction of nuclear facilities- localized effects of accidents/terrorism • Absence of long-term storage facilities to hold dangerous waste products • High costs make nuclear power economically inefficient • Waste from nuclear reactors facilitates nuclear proliferation, threatening global security