Nuclear power is actually the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate electricity and heat. As a result of the current debate on global level to suppress (or at least reduce) the global warming and environmental pollution, many politicians and experts are thinking about the idea of reviving nuclear energy. The advantages of nuclear powers are many, such as the relatively low operating costs the ability to produce huge amounts of power only from one power station. However there are also many disadvantages such as the problem with the storage of radioactive waste which is extremely dangerous, nuclear power plants can become the target of terrorist attacks, radioactive waste from power plants can be used to produce nuclear weapons and the initial investment amount is very high.
Despite increased security measures, there is still the possibility of accidents. Technically it is impossible to build a 100% safe nuclear plant. Risk can come from anywhere – human factor (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), technical failure, natural disaster (Fukushima)…The consequences of these accidents would be catastrophic for people and nature. So, nuclear power can certainly solve the energy problems of a country in the long term, but can also cause more problems than it solves. Here are some interesting facts about nuclear power that you should know!
- In 1905, Einstein discovered that mass could be changed into energy and vice versa, but in 1918, Sir Ernest Rutherford proved that atoms could be split and by 1942, the world had its very first nuclear reactor.
- There are over 430 commercial nuclear power reactors in 31 countries currently.
- There have been three big nuclear power plant disasters in the world: the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.
- The first nuclear power plant to produce electricity for a power grid in the world was USSR’s Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant on June 27, 1954.
- The U. S. has 71,862 tons of nuclear waste. Waste can stay dangerous for thousands of years.
- Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission (the process of splitting an atom into two) to produce energy. Nuclear fusion (the process of combining atoms into one) is thought to be safer and has potential for energy production.
- Some scientists believe that people receive five times as much radiation in a lifetime from sitting in front of the computer or TV as they would from living by a nuclear power station.
- The first nuclear weapon in the world was detonated as a test by the U.S. on July 16, 1945. The fireball was 600 feet wide and generated power roughly equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT.
- After the nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, many countries have rethought the use of nuclear energy. Germany plans to close all of its reactors by 2022 and Italy and Switzerland have halted expanding their nuclear power. However some big countries such as China and India, are still building new nuclear plants.
- Around 6% of the world’s energy and 14% of the world’s electricity is produced by nuclear power.
- Nuclear power plants have a relatively good safety record but there is still a strong debate about the potential risk they pose.
- Nuclear reactors are used to power some military submarines and aircraft carriers.
- Radiation in high doses can cause serious illness or death. Symptoms include sever headaches, vomiting, and internal bleeding. Some victims of radiation sickness also need to have their limbs amputated. Lower doses of radiation can have some long-lasting effects, such as increased likelihood of developing tumors and cancer that may not show up for 30 years or more.