Nuclear energy: helping to decarbonize the planet or an immense cost and storage challenges?

WBUR, Boston’s NPR station recently published an article about the controversy surrounding nuclear power as an energy source.Some argue against the use of nuclear power because of the cost, radioactive waste, and safety concerns. However, others point out that nuclear is an important energy source that should be further considered because that does it does not add carbon to the atmosphere. Fossil fuels (carbon) contributes to the worsening of the global climate crisis. The image below demonstrates some of the indicators fossil fuels on the climate crisis. Within this camp, some support keeping existing plants running until alternative sources become more viable; whereas, others say that it is also worth investing in new nuclear to support decarbonizing the environment. Check out their full article here: https://www.wbur.org/earthwhile/2019/09/17/nuclear-power-future-history-controversy

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I am interested in the prospect of nuclear energy because I believe that it could provide a plausible source of energy that does not contribute to emitting additional carbon into the atmosphere. However, I think there are some additional challenges that complicate the issue. Storing the waste of the rods that contain the Uranium after they no longer are able to produce energy is a major concern. Many current inactive reactors that contain extremely radioactive material are still sitting at the closed down sites, with no concrete plan on where to put them. For local people, they could be exposed to harmful radiation, or the water sources could be exposed and radiation spread. I believe that a solution would need to be enacted to combat this before we considered investing immense finances into building additional nuclear plants.

The cost is an additional challenge that would need to be weighed heavily. I support investing money into nuclear power plants that are currently active so that they keep other non-climate friendly options from being increased. However, there is an immense cost associated with building new ones that I think that the current technology is not worth investing the money in, when this could go towards sources such as wind and solar. However, there is work towards coming up with smaller modular reactors that could potentially be safer and cost less.

I think that the global climate crisis needs to be taken seriously by all. We must decarbonize so that our future generations can enjoy the beautiful Earth that we occupy. There is not “easy” answer that will solve this problem. However, I believe that we should continue to put resources into determining if nuclear could be a plausible source to fill the gaps until other technologies of carbon free energy producers are viable to handle the immense load that is needed. In addition, we as a society need to be conscious about our consumption so that additional need for sources of energy does not keep skyrocketing. The cost and storage are still hurdles that must be overcome before it is there, but perhaps in the next 30 years nuclear energy sources could be one of the components of decarbonizing our planet

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