The Nuclear Solution, What Will It Solve? By Michael Chiquitucto

The Nuclear Solution, What Will It Solve? By Michael Chiquitucto

      Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island. These locations from around the globe have one common link: nuclear disaster. These disasters had a massive effect on millions of people’s views of nuclear energy perception of nuclear energy. The irony of this is that nuclear power plants were marketed as clean and environmentally-friendly. While this is true, the dangers of a nuclear meltdown or radiation leak are significantly worse for the environment and people living nearby. With all of this knowledge erupted an outcry from many debating on how safe nuclear power actually is. One side of the argument is that nuclear power plants are clean, efficient, and low-cost solutions that provide a more environmentally-friendly change in power production. On the other hand, these nuclear power plants have the potential to become seriously harmful to people and animals nearby which could be a potential target for acts of terrorism. Personally, I believe that we have given up on nuclear power too early and that we should give it another chance.

    Ever since the incident on Three Mile Island, there has been a general decline in the use of nuclear power in the United States. While I understand the concern that comes from nuclear power as we progress to more environmentally friendly and zero carbon emission power supplies, we have to consider the practicality of nuclear power. In a summary posted by The World Nuclear Association, it describes the environmental benefits of nuclear power. “Nuclear power plants produce no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, and over the course of its life-cycle, nuclear produces about the same amount of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions per unit of electricity as wind, and one-third of the emissions per unit of electricity when compared with solar.” (Source).

     While most people make the claim that the swap to zero carbon emissions is a long way away, that might not be exactly the case. On November 16, 2022, the government of California put out a roadmap of its goal to “net zero carbon pollution.” While the date they released for their expectation seems far from their goal set in 2045, that’s fairly close considering the goal they are trying to achieve. “California is drastically cutting our dependence on fossil fuels and cleaning our air – this plan is a comprehensive roadmap to achieve a pollution-free future” (Source). As the date draws closer, I believe that nuclear power can bridge the gap between outdated and polluted sources of power.

     It has been shown that nuclear power is way more reliable with less maintenance than a standard oil rig. “Nuclear power plants are typically used more often because they require less maintenance and are designed to operate for longer stretches before refueling (typically every 1.5 or 2 years)” (Source). One statement by the Office of Nuclear Energy explained that they require maintenance every 1.5 – 2 years which is less than every week with oil rigs (Source).

    In conclusion, nuclear power can greatly impact the environment for the better and is not only be more reliable but also more desirable considering the push towards zero carbon emissions. In short, supporting nuclear power means supporting the change to a low-carbon emission, desirable, and reliable source of energy.