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Research Essay on Impacts of Nuclear Power Plants On Earth And Solutions

Question

Task:Write a research essay based on a problem and solution essay model structure

Topic: Choose a topic of interest that is related to your further studies at university. Your teacher will help you with this. Please see the EAP2 ‘Sample topics’ guide for some ideas.

Essay writing process

  1. Brainstorm ideas for problems and solutions
  2. Plan how your essay using the ‘Essay Plan Template’.
  3. Research, using the CQU library website or Google Scholar as a resource.
  4. Use examples and evidence from your research to support the points you want to make.
  5. Write your first draft, using A.P.A Style Referencing.
  6. Submit your first draft in Moodle.
  7. Read the feedback from your teacher, noting areas to improve
  8. Edit your draf
  9. Submit your final essay in Moodle.

Answer

Introduction
This Research Essay outlins the importance of producing low carbon electricity, nuclear fission is the possible alternative since its discovery in 1940 (Gill, Livens, & Peakman, 2014). While the modern civilization adopts this technology, it is also associated with high risks to the human life and environment. World Nuclear Association (2018, para. 4) claims that 450 nuclear power plants situated worldwide generates 11 percent of the world’s electricity. While they are in rising acceptance, it is also associated with potential risks of environmental issues despite measure for control. Hence, it becomes imperative to access the potential issues and risks in relation to the use of nuclear power plants in the modern world. Hence, this essay will identify and explain the possible problems as well as evaluate and critically analyze the potential solutions. The following section will identify three problems of using nuclear energy followed by a potential solution. A critical analysis of the solutions will determine its effectiveness and discuss the potential impacts of nuclear energy on planet earth.

Discussion
Thesis statement
Three problems that have emerged due to nuclear plant are discussed below:
Problem 1: The first challenge outlined on the Research Essay concerns the disposing of radioactive nuclear wastes that are generated from the growing number of nuclear power plants. Kyne and Bolin (2016, p.708) state, “radioactive waste includes used reactor fuel and waste materials after spent fuel is processed”. Currently, the radioactive rods are stored in the commercial reactor sites are growing and the crisis will increase unless any permanent sites are developed for disposing of the wastes sustainably. Another major associated challenge is the transportation of such wastes to identify disposal sites due to their active radioactive nature.

Problem 2: The second problem discussed on the Research Essay is the leakage of radioactive emissions to the environment from the controlled infrastructure. Kilic (2016, p. 23) claims, “ionizing radiation is emitted at various stages” of a nuclear cycle. This study identifies that such leakages can occur during the collection process until disposal. While such radiation leakages are minimal, they are considered detrimental to human tissues and health. The damage to the natural environment includes damage to the DNA of the living organizations and cancer for human species. Protective shields surrounding the power generators will help to capture and limit the ionized emissions (Attia, 2015, p. 374).

Problem 3: One of the major by-products of a nuclear reactor is plutonium-239, a very sought after element for the development of nuclear weapons. This Research Essay highlights the significance that makes nuclear power stations attractive to terrorist’s attacks and weapons proliferation (Macfarlane, 2016). The major risk associated with this aspect of the nuclear power plant is that it may lead to terrorist attacks in the region. Many studies and findings have showed that since 2001 attacks on New York, nuclear power plants are at substantial risks from terrorist activities. Since nuclear plants are being considered as an alternative option for fossil fuels, as they do not lead to the generation of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and any other greenhouse gases. Thus, in past few decades, there have been major developments in this field and many new nuclear plants have been established in different countries. In USA, alone 100 nuclear power plants operate everyday that supply 20 per cent of the total electricity requirement of the country, whereas, in France nearly 80 per cent of the total electricity requirement is generated using nuclear fission. This has increased risks or chances of terrorist attacks (Hirschberg, et al., 2016). Although all major countries deny the use of by-products of nuclear power production and the military use of plutonium, however there are considerable chances of plutonium being used in weapons proliferation.

Solutions to three problems are:
Solution 1: Unlike the traditional solution such as geologic disposal using copper canisters, Santa’ana and Cordeiro (2016, p. 40) identify that radioactive waste can be absorbed by certain community micro bacteria. Lopez-Fernandez et al. (2015, p. 937) claim that microbial interaction can help in absorbing the radioactivity and transform the constituents of the wastes through the process of oxidation or reduction. The microbial organizations essentially require the radionuclide and associated matters present in the canisters in order to survive. While they host on these wastes, they also help to reduce the quantity as well as their radioactive emissions. However, the study also reveals that the similar impact can happen to the control soil and the storage canisters with other strains of microbial organisms (Lopez-Fernandez et al., 2015, p. 932). They will potentially corrode the storage and control resources and increase the risk of radioactive emissions. Hence, it is clear that this method will be able to provide a sustainable process of disposal but also requires considerable research in order to identify the particular strains of bacteria that can secure the process of disposal. From this discussion, the associated issue identified to be the impact of radiation due to leakages. Hence, this aspect requires analysis as well as the identification of possible solutions.

Solution 2: Lead and concrete can be used to limit the gamma and beta rays from affecting the environment. The water system can be used to cool down and absorb the alpha rays rendering the uranium rods safe for storage (Attia, 2015, p. 374). However, such infrastructures present within the commercial facility and the power plant, transportation between silos and disposal sites the prime contributor to the leakage. Hence, according to the Research Essay it is essential that these constructions have to be present while transportation of the nuclear fuel and wastes. While they are effective towards limiting the exposure, it does not mitigate the possibility of radioactive emissions. Hence, monitoring is required in order to reduce the impact of low levels of ionized radiation. The power plant authorities routinely conduct an analysis of samples and release them publicly of in order to sensitize them about the level of radiation exposure. However, these solutions clearly do not aid to overcome the identified obstacle.

Solution 3: Since nuclear power plants have become a major site for terrorist attacks, therefore government need to take actions in order to facilitate safety in the region. For this, government or regulatory bodies need to ensure safety through use of military personnel. This will be a major step for securing safety and welfare of research team working in the power plant. Help of intelligence agencies can be taken for identifying plans and actions of terrorist attacks. In many countries, governments have already signed a Non-Proliferation Treaty, with the objective to stop spreading nuclear weapons and materials generated in nuclear power plants (Popp, Horovitz, & Wenger, 2016). It is an international treaty, which ensures that all countries included in it support cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and materials. Many countries have joined this treaty to stop such activities from happening in future. Those countries are Russia, China, France, United States of America and United Kingdom. The treaty is reviewed after every five years to ensure higher security and awareness about the emerging issues. Involving more countries in the treaty will ensure higher safety and peacefulness across the globe.

Conclusion
This purpose of this essay is to identify the potential problems to nuclear energy and critically analyze its potential solution. The essay identifies that nuclear plants generate radioactive wastes, which disrupts the human and natural habitat can be controlled through the implementation of microbial disposal strategy. However, it is also clear that the microbial organisms may also assist towards degrading the container and surrounding soil, which may derogate the process. The second issue to contain the radiation leak can be solved with lead and concrete as construction material. However, low-level gamma rays can still be released unintentionally due to handling and transportation of radioactive materials and wastes. Hence, periodic monitoring is essential. Finally, the third problem is the ethical dilemma of releasing of contaminated effluents into the water bodies can be solved with the adoption of frozen soil strategy. However, the viability and cost-effectiveness are of serious debate. From the discussion, it is clear that the use of any technology to reduce the harmful impact is not foolproof. All the strategies show severe disadvantage if not monitored. Hence, the Research Essay recommends that monitoring of the facility and strategy at strict intervals is essential in order to proactive reduce further harm to the environment.

References
Attia, S. I. (2015). The influence of condenser cooling water temperature on the thermal efficiency of a nuclear power plant. Annals of Nuclear Energy, 80, 371-378.

Gill, M., Livens, F., & Peakman, A. (2014). Chapter 9 - Nuclear Fission. In Letcher, T.M. (Eds.), Future Energy (2nd Ed., pp. 181-198). London: Oxford University Press

Hirschberg, S., Bauer, C., Burgherr, P., Cazzoli, E., Heck, T., Spada, M., & Treyer, K. (2016). Health effects of technologies for power generation: Contributions from normal operation, severe accidents and terrorist threat. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 145, 373-387.

Khan, A. M., & Noor, M. J. (2017). Radiocaesium contaminated sites and possible techniques for remediation. Geology, Ecology, and Landscapes, 1(2), 84-94.

Kilic, K. (2016). A Survey on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Pollution. ResearchGate

Kyne, D., & Bolin, B. (2016). Emerging Environmental Justice Issues in Nuclear Power and Radioactive Contamination. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 13(7). 700-710.

Lopez-Fernandez, M., Cherkouk, A., Vilchez-Vargas, R., Jauregui, R., Pieper, D., Boon, N., SanchezCastro, I., & Merroun, M.L. (2015) Bacterial Diversity in Bentonites, Engineered Barrier for Deep Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes. Microbial Ecology. 70(4), 922-944.

Macfarlane, A. (2016). How to protect nuclear plants from terrorists. The Conversation.

Mainichi. (2018). TEPCO estimates 'ice wall' reduces contaminated water by 95 metric tons per day. Retrieved from https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180302/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

Popp, R., Horovitz, L., & Wenger, A. (Eds.). (2016). Negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origins of the Nuclear Order. Taylor & Francis.

Santa’ana, L.P., & Cordeiro, T.C. (2016). Management of Radio Active Wastes: A Review. Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 6(2), 38-43.

World Nuclear Association. (2018). Nuclear Power in the World Today, Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx

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