With fossil fuel-powered stations closing across the country and energy demand shortly exceeding energy supply. How will the UK cope with this? The answer is Nuclear Power. However, one question will remain. Is Nuclear Power safe? I have been asked by the UK government to produce a word report discussing this issue. And through my extensive research here is what I have found.
1986 Chernobyl Disaster
Early in the morning, on the 26th April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station exploded. Moscow was slow to admit what had happened, even after increased radiation was detected in other countries. The image below shows the spread of Caesium-137 in Europe.
Figure 1: Contamination spread of Caesium-137 in Europe
Figure 2: Unit 4 Reactor @BBC News Chernobyl Disaster
The accident that occurred on 2011 at Fukushima, Japan (https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-power-accidents/fukushima-book#.Wmo5lzfLjIU) should have been a wake-up call prompting the world of the weakness of nuclear power plants to natural disasters e.g. Earthquakes and floods.
In any case, nature isn’t the main potential danger to nuclear facilities. They are likewise welcoming focuses for sabotage and terrorist attacks. An effective assault on an atomic plant could have wrecking outcomes, slaughtering, sickening or uprooting huge quantities of occupants in the zone surrounding the plant, and causing extensive long-term natural harm.
Protecting nuclear facilities against sabotage is part of the mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission NRC (https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/whos-responsible-nuclear-power-safety#.Wmo6ZDfLjIU) . The NRC makes security rules that all plants must follow, covering issues such as security access zones, the kinds of threats plant security systems must be prepared to meet, the size and abilities of security staffing, and how often security systems must be tested. (Union of Concerned Scientists, Nuclear Security, https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-plant-security#.Wmo5pjfLjIV)
The events of 9/11/2001 (http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks) threw the issue of nuclear security into the spotlight. Even before 9/11, UCS experts had pointed out serious flaws in NRC security regulations and their enforcement. Despite the changes that the NRC has put into place after 9/11, some of these concerns remain unaddressed. U.S. nuclear plants are still not as secure as they can and should be. (Union of Concerned Scientists, Nuclear Security, https://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-plant-security#.Wmo7ZDfLjIW) The following image shows the distribution of nuclear power plants in the US.
Figure 3: The distribution of Nuclear Power Plants in the US
Generation IV Reactors