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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics

 

Problems with Using Nuclear Energy

In principle, nuclear energy, whose share of covering the world’s energy needs presently amounts to around 5%, is one of the best methods how we can presently produce energy. Even so, this form of energy has many great risks for mankind and the environment.

The wasteful consequences of nuclear energy is not only in its military use, as was proven following the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, as was shown in the nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl in 1986, the peaceful use of nuclear energy also carries with it its unexpected risks. Not only did thousands of people die immediately following the reactor’s failure but also due to the cancer illnesses clearly resulting from this accident. Besides this, there is a clear rise in the number of miscarriages and birth defects in the area surrounding Chernobyl. At that time, a radioactive cloud engulfed all of Europe. Although the consequences of this accident were not directly visible in all parts of Europe, increased amounts of radiation were observed in many locations.

To avoid such an accident from taking place in the future, some countries have decided to stop producing nuclear energy outright. Furthermore, many residents living near border regions neighbouring countries still operating or building nuclear power plants are protesting against it.

It can be generally stated that, even in light of many safety and preventive measures, the use of nuclear energy has many risks hidden within it in that dangerous situations can occur at all locations along its fuel circuit. The risks involved do not only relate to, as it is often erroneously believed, the actual fusion process, the storage of uranium or its recycling and transport but also on the mining of uranium and the creation of radioactive dumpsites. The biproducts of nuclear fission, such as radioactive radon gas created from waste containing remains of radium, leads to greater occurrences of lung cancers, evident with miners or residents living near radioactive waste dumps.

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