Nuclear Energy: Environmental Spelling Mistake

A powerful and efficient source of energy – nuclear power, became a familiar word discussed by people within the scientific world and other areas in the last few years. Nuclear energy was a result of controlled nuclear reactions viz fission and fusion and led to production of heat, electricity and other sources of energy.  Fission is an exothermic reaction which includes splitting of a nucleus of an atom into protons and neutrons whereas fusion is the combination of smaller nuclei to form a single heavy nucleus with the absorption or release of energy. Out of both the reactions, fission is preferred as fusion leads to release of immense amounts of heat.

Though it is counted as one of the most potent sources of energy, it has a number of drawbacks. The production alone requires a great deal of care and attention. The expense and availability of the raw materials involved is rather questionable as compared to other sources. The disposal of the used materials is one of the major issues in this case as spread of radioactivity is a possibility.

Besides the above mentioned impediments the prominent one can be stated as its effect on the environment. It is of priority that any new source of energy discovered, should burden the environment to its least extent.  Nuclear power though is least reactive when used under controlled surveillance, can prove to be highly diabolical if neglected and transfused to larger areas without any proper hold on the consequences.

The fatality of this power was disclosed with the Chernobyl disaster that occurred on April 26, 1986. This was a result of an accident in reactor number four of the power plant. At an unusual and unsafe test being carried out in the plant, sudden and quick increase in the output energy led to the attempt of emergent shut down of the systems. This didn’t cut out the risk, but instead triggered higher levels of energy production which subsequently led to vessel damage and a lineage of explosions.

The explosion led to the exposure of the graphite moderator (a medium that reduces the velocity of neutrons) to the environment that led to its ignition. As a result radioactive byproducts were released in a large geographical area. This explosion not only affected Ukraine but also Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Northern Europe. The disaster had a great impact as large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia had to be evacuated and the people residing in these areas resettled. Till today the aftermath of the disaster is being felt. Though maximum radii of the land is proclaimed to be fit to inhabit, the other half still bears testimony to the wrath of that day.

This proved the fact that not only did this super power root succeed in giving immense efficiency to many devices but just like nature’s law explained that with great power comes great responsibility. It is for the responsible people to keep a regular check on the components, its use and the disposal of waste in the correct way. Monitored use of things can be beneficial, fatal otherwise.

Nupur Paul