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Safety Of Nuclear Power Stations

Difference between Originality and Plagiarism

As one tries to differentiate originality and plagiarisms, many questions usually arise from this subject often leading to debates especially now that we are wholly entrenched to the internet age. There exists a thin intricate line bordering what can be referred to as an original work and a plagiarized work. This section will seek to shed light on this rather obvious yet complicated topic so as to establish an outstanding difference between the two aspects, Originality and Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the use someone else work, products and ideas for personal advantages and with intent of passing them on as though they were your own work without giving proper credit and acknowledgement of the original work from where you borrowed your ideas usually by citing the source of your information. This also includes; coping words or ideas from someone else without giving credit, giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation, changing words but coping the sentence structure of a source without giving credit. Plagiarism may occur through deliberate actions of intent to deceive or accidentally where the original work is poorly cited[1].Plagiarism can be avoided by citing the source from where the information have been derived from or by quoting or by paraphrasing the information (Turnitin, 2011).

In contrast, originality is the capacity to think or act independently. The Merriam dictionary (Merriam Webster) asserts that originality is “the power of independent thought or constructive imagination” .Therefore, it can be generally derived that originality is the power of independent thought in giving work that has not been in existence there before or giving work that is in existence but developing it anew in such a way that it is elusive of any plagiarism and consequently depicting some sense of independency.

Development of the Research Question

Many people still wonder Are nuclear power stations safe to use in energy generation? From time immemorial, people have depended on energy to do virtually everything. There are numerous source of energy ranging from the renewable sources such as the solar, hydro, wind and thermal to the non-renewable which largely constitute of the fossil fuels such as coal, charcoal, firewood, natural gas and crude oil. It is noted that most often, people have largely relied on the non-renewable energy sources though with commendable developments in the use of the renewable energy sources.

During the last century, there emerged the need to look for other sources of energy to supplement the already dwindling non-renewable energy resources. Nevertheless, the alternatives had to be efficient, effective yet relatively cheap and more centered and verged towards healthy environmental practices and geological ethics. This gave rise to the development of nuclear energy sources which were more efficient than most of the existing energy sources. However, with the development of nuclear energy generation plants, unforeseen dangers propped up challenging the safety and security conditions of the generation plants after some of the major reactor accidents in some of the pioneer plants which among them included Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents (WHAT IS NUCLEAR, 2011). This led to a strong awareness campaign concerning the potential hazards of both the intricate nuclear criticality and the consequent release of radioactive materials in these plants. 

Bearing in mind that Safety condition and reliability of a nuclear energy generation plant are both equally essential priorities in the development and operation of any nuclear energy systems (World Nuclear Association, 2011), the question of whether or not the nuclear energy generators are safe to the environment and to the citizens of any country with such a project cannot just be sidelined .Though there have been research on this area, little have been done since the commencement of a new decade from 2010.I have therefore embarked on a research so as to be able to evoke an accurate answer as to whether nuclear power stations are safe.

Description and Analysis

Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions, under controlled conditions, to generate energy for propulsion, heat, and for the generation of electricity. Nuclear power is done in Nuclear reactors by use of nuclear fission and radioactive decay of nuclear materials amongst them being uranium 235 and plutonium 239. Nuclear fuels are usually used in a self-sustaining reactor that eventually releases the energy at a controlled rate in the case of energy generation or in very rapid uncontrolled rate in the case of nuclear weapons that releases the energy. Safety as indicated by World Nuclear Association mainly relates to intrinsic problems or hazards and focuses on the unintended conditions or events that lead to the release of radioactive radiations from authorized activities (WHAT IS NUCLEAR, 2011).

After the setbacks of the nuclear generation plants in the 1970’s, the rather dynamically growing project paced down to give room for further evaluations. However, a new catastrophe was slowly coming up and with time its glaring effects have been felt, most of them being even more fatal. This is global warming which has been largely linked to the use of fossil fuels which when burned releases CO2 into the atmosphere. This has come as an awakening call to revisit the option of using Nuclear power plants which emits relatively low amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) as compared to the fossil energy sources and therefore their contribution to global is relatively low (Brain, 2000).

However very recently, there was a fatal accident when Fukushima in Japan was hit by an earthquake leading to a meltdown which superseded the controllable limits thus immensely harming the citizens. There lies the dilemma on whether really the Nuclear power plant is the best option or not as far as safety is concerned.

Data selection and materials

In this research, I shall rely on the use of secondary data already available in the World Wide Web (World Nuclear Association, 2011) and primary data that shall be collected through a sampled survey. To this effect, I shall carry out a survey to determine the perception index of people towards the safety of the Nuclear Power Generators. The Questionnaire to be used in the survey shall largely rely on closed ended questions so as to capture the respondents’’ opinions. The measure of these opinions on each hypothesis shall be entrenched on the use a five-point likert-scale (5-Totally Agree-1-Totally Disagree) to measure the level of the respondents’ opinions towards the safety conditions of the nuclear plant.

Amongst the hypothesis to be used in the survey shall but not in totality focus on such parameters as the

  • Age of the respondents,
  • Whether they are familiar with the nuclear power generators and how they operate.
  • Whether they can articulate well the pros and cons of nuclear power generators.
  • Whether they know of the safety hazards of nuclear reactors and finally but not the least,
  • Whether they think that the nuclear reactors are safe to depend on in power generation and if they think that countries have the adequate infrastructure and policies to handle nuclear generation and their consequent dangers.

Are nuclear power stations safe?

There is one fundamental point that at the heart of each and every nuclear power reactor is an intricate and controlled environment of radioactivity and induced fission of radioactive materials. This environment generates heats used to propel electricity generators. However when this environment goes out of control, the consequent results can be catastrophic and most often fatal (Brain, 2000).

For many years, a nuclear accident commonly referred to as Chernobyl disaster stood as the prime worst-case instance of nuclear malfunction. The Ukrainian nuclear reactor exploded in 1986, spewing almost 50 tons of radioactive material into the surrounding environs hence consequently contaminating millions of acres of forest. The aftermath of the disaster was amongst them an unplanned evacuation of at least 30,000 people, and an eventual even more disastrous calamity where thousands of people died from cancer and other illnesses due to extreme exposure to radioactive radiations produced after the meltdown (Popular Science, 2009).

As earlier noted Nuclear power Generation Plants is once again considered a prominent alternative and the best due to its efficiency, despite the disregard it was met with in the 1970s when minimal post-calamities had research had been done. The reason behind this is because it’s now being viewed as a more environmentally and socially beneficial solution to the glaring global warming problem since it emits far fewer greenhouse gases such as Carbon II Oxide during electricity generation as compared to fossil energies such as coal or other traditional power plants which greatly relied on the fossil fuels (World Nuclear Association, 2011).

It is generally depicted and accepted as a somewhat less dangerous, though potentially problematic, but yet manageable source of generating electricity. However, it is to be noted that radiation isn’t easily dealt with, especially in handling nuclear wastes and other realted maintenance materials, and most often expensive solutions are needed to control, contain, and protect both people and the overall environment from its harm and consequent radiation leakages in case of accidents as noted earlier. (Brain, 2000)

This therefore implies that the dialogue about using nuclear power and any meaningful expansion largely centers on weighing these risks associated with nuclear power generation against the rewards drawn from the same, closely weighing the against the risks inherent in other forms of power generation that are in use today.

Before arriving at any conclusion, it is to be noted that there have been three major accidents resulting from a nuclear plant meltdown which have occurred among the over a period of 14,400 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries different countries since the inception of this source of energy (World Nuclear Association, 2011).These accidents as earlier noted are the Three Mile Island accident, The Chernobyl accident and the very recent Fukushima accident (World Nuclear Association, 2011).

While, taking a close synopsis of each of the above named accidents, we shall establish the instances where nuclear reactors’ accidents have been caused by more intrinsic problems or hazards rather than intentional malicious acts. The accident in the Three Mile Island (USA 1979) meltdown occurred after the reactor was severely damaged but it was noted that no radiation was contained yet there were no adverse health and environmental consequences. The Chernobyl Disaster (Ukraine 1986) had significant health and environmental consequences after the reactor was damaged by steam explosion and fire thus killing 31 people instantly and had some other 5 thereafter. (World Nuclear Association, 2011)In the most recent accident, Fukushima Daiichi accident (Japan 2011), there were three old reactors which were blew off after a huge Tsunami hit them and there was a consequent loss of cooling which went uncontained thus fatally affecting the people around that place (Popular Science, 2009).

From the above instances it is evident that two of the reactors accidents occurred during the pioneer years where no major resources had been directed towards research on how to curb such safety conditions. The Fukushima Diiachi accident was also part of the plants established during those premier days (Popular Science, 2009).

However, in the recent times a lot has been done to mitigate both the environmental and human safety issues and hazards. During the establishment of any Nuclear energy reactor plant, any Safety threat is mitigated through a" defense in depth” technology which can be summed up as Prevention, Monitoring, and Action Mitigation measures. This involves use of amongst others, very high-quality design during construction, the  use of equipment which prevents operational disturbances or human failures and errors developing into problems which often leads to accidents in such reactors, Comprehensive and regular monitoring and testing of the whole plant to detect equipment dysfunction or operator failures, redundant and diverse systems to control damage to the fuel and prevent significant radioactive releases and finally a provision to confine the effects of severe fuel damage (or any related problem) to the nuclear plant itself (World Nuclear Association, 2011).

Reflective Conclusion

The very elusive topic on whether or not Nuclear Reactors are Safe to use in Electricity generation is a subject that can invite numerous discussions, mythical believes and criticism. It is however a dynamic topic which has continuously attracted many researches over the years and which continues to attract even more over time as more challenges and setbacks continue to evolve. There are numerous lines of research and areas of even more intellectual exploration that can be followed to address all the safety and security issues related to Nuclear power reactors.

However, it is imperative to lay clear lines and boundaries between the facts and the myths where any research to be carried can be based on. In my opinion, after clearly articulating the existing facts in the previous sections above, I feel that the nuclear reactors are safe to use. However, I note that the old Nuclear Reactors should be renovated in line with the “In Depth Defense” mechanism to curb any future occurrence of what was witnessed in Fukushima (Japan, 2011) after a Tsunami hit some of the old Nuclear Plants thus cutting the cooling system.

Any Country, nevertheless, planning to initiate Nuclear Reactors Projects should follow the guidelines of averting any Safety hazards as outlined above. These mitigation processes shall wholly develop the infrastructure in Nuclear Reactors to the advantage of both humanity and the Environment by averting and totally putting at bay any safety Risk.

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