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Nuclear Power

For years, nuclear power has been a promising, long term, energy source but because of the fear of a meltdown or some other catastrophic accident, the building of more nuclear power plants in the United States has been all but put on hold and none have been built for commercial use in many years.

But because of the greenhouse effect associated with the use of fossil fuels and with the rising price of gas and other petroleum based products, the idea of building more nuclear power plants has once again become the focal point of discussions between scientists and politicians alike.

Although it is a fact that, if released into the air, radioactive gasses can be profoundly devastating to the environment, some scientists believe that if nuclear energy is harnessed and handled with care, it can be used safely, thus dramatically reducing our dependence on oil, coal, and other fossil fuels.

Nuclear power is, for most people, a double edged sword. For years, the nuclear power plants that are already online in this country have generated much needed electricity for millions of homes and businesses.

It is a silent industry, not generating the noise and the pollutants associated with other industries.

There has been many significant uses and applications associated with nuclear energy including electric power, medical diagnostics and disease treatments, transportation and industrial applications, and the development of products used by most of us for every day uses.

But over the years, there has been several nuclear accidents around the world that have given cause for concern.

In the United States, the most notable accident was at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in March of 1979. A safety device failed and the reactor overheated creating the possibility of a meltdown.

Even though there was not a total meltdown, radioactive gases were released into the atmosphere and an evacuation was ordered for some residents living around the plant, thus giving the opponents of nuclear power a big public relations boost.

The most devastating nuclear accident occurred in the USSR at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Kiev, Ukraine on April 25, 1986 causing many deaths and other radiation related illnesses to the surrounding population.

It is estimated that most Americans support the building of more nuclear power plants to provide cheaper energy and to move the country into the realm of alternative energy sources and away from under the domination of foreign oil and gas producers and suppliers.

But there is one question that makes the most ardent supporters of nuclear power queasy. That is, where to build the nuclear power plants.

Although we all want a cheaper, long term energy supply, no one wants a nuclear power plant built in his own neighborhood.

Sooner or later, we may have to accept the fact that more nuclear power plants are going to be built and located near us, especially if climate changes becomes more pronounced.


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