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Environmental Effects of the Production of Electricity by Various Energy Sources - Essay Example

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Environmental Effects of the Production of Electricity by Various Energy Sources

This paper will explore the use of nuclear technology for electricity production with a bias on the environmental and public health impact of this technology as compared to the use of coal. First of all, the paper will look into the current status of electricity production using nuclear technology today in the USA and then look into the environmental and health impact of this technology and lastly compare the impact associated with it to that associated to use of coal for electricity production. The USA is the leading producer of nuclear power accounting for about 30% of the nuclear power electricity production in the world with 104 nuclear reactors that produce more than 19% of the total electricity produced in the USA (World Nuclear Association) . Currently there are 100 operable nuclear reactors in 31 different states which are under the operation of 30 different companies whereas three reactors are under construction and it is expected that 4 more reactors might be operational by the year 2020 (World Nuclear Association). ...
However, the reduction of natural gas rates since the year 2009 has put some misgiving in the economic viability of nuclear expansion in the USA (World Nuclear Association). Although nuclear electricity production is highly regulated by both the state and federal laws to ensure that there is minimal interference with the environment and public health, this technology has its share of limitations. Although the nuclear generation process does not produce pollutant gases such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide as part of the power generation process, fossil fuel gas emissions are associated with the process of mining and transportation of uranium to and fro the reactors (OECD Nuclear Energy Agency 57) In this way, nuclear energy production indirectly contributes to release of pollutant gases and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the environment. Open pit excavations of Uranium mines may also be a hazard to both animals and human beings whereas uranium mining in any method elicits environmental concerns because of its waste material tailings from the uranium ore. Tailings are small pieces which result from crushing the rock to obtain the valuable mineral and are usually emplaced in the mine or disposed in engineered dams. They often contain radioactive material and sometimes sulphides with the potential of forming acids (Merkel &Hasche-Berger 631). The nuclear reactors use a lot of water for steam production and also for cooling which might remove a lot of water from the water bodies such as rivers and lakes thus endangering aquatic life (Kingery 151). Water discharge from nuclear power plants also has traces of heavy metal and salts as well as high temperatures thus degrading the water quality in water bodies and ...Show more

Summary

Name Professor Subject Date Comparison of Environmental and Public Health Impact and Nuclear Technology and Coal for Electricity Production There are several ways of electricity production which range from fossil fuel electricity production mechanisms to nuclear and renewable sources where each method has a fair share of benefits and limitations with regard to the environment and public health…
Author : hansengrace
Environmental Effects of the Production of Electricity by Various Energy Sources essay example
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