Is Nuclear Clean Power?

There is much debate over whether or not nuclear energy is a clean form of power.

The debate lies in the trade off between nuclear plants providing less of a carbon foot print as some other forms of energy. However, there are obvious impacts on both the environment and general health of beings nearby nuclear power plants.

Other arguments include the large amount of water consumed to operate nuclear power plants, along with leaks and other water issues, and then the endangerment of several species of plants and animals.

Water Hog

  • Nuclear power plants obtain water from lakes, rivers, aquifers, and the ocean.
  • This is a closed system because a lot of the water is lost to evaporation and is not recycled.
  • Nuclear plants draw nearly eight times the freshwater of natural plants per unit of electricity that they generate. This is 11% more than coal plants.

Species in Danger

  • Salmon in the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest have been known to get sucked into power plants while trying to swim upstream during mating season.
  • Endangered sea turtles of the coast of Florida have also been impacted by Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie plant on Hutchinson Island.
  • The plant’s intake has brought in more than 16,000 sea turtles since 1976.
    • This plant has also faced issues including harm to swarms of jellyfish.

Leaks and Other Water Issues

  • Nuclear power plants periodically leak pollutants such as radioactive elements such as tritium.
  • Plants near big cities such as New York City and Miami have found traces of tritium in their drinking water at levels above regulation by the EPA.

 

Resources:

NESMITH, SUSANNAH. “Is Nuclear Clean Power?.” Planning, vol. 82, no. 8, Aug/Sep2016, pp. 36-39. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=vth&AN=117223522&site=ehost-live.

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