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Nuclear Technology

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Nuclear Technology


Name: Fernanda Cristina Barbosa Reis

I.D. Number: 14050099

Course: Pre-Sessional English SwB

Title of Essay: Nuclear technology can be viewed both positively and negatively. Discuss whether the benefits of nuclear technology outweigh the advantages. Support and reference your answer.

Course Lecturer: Declan Costelloe and Joan O’ Sullivan

Word count: 819

Submission on: 13th August 2014

According to the World Nuclear Association (2014), nuclear technology is based on the atoms’ instability. Some atoms’ nucleus change over time and can emit particles or waves, which are named radiations. The use of this technology has raised several issues over the past few decades. At the same it poses high risks, it can also bring several benefits to the world.

Nowadays, it is widely known that nuclear technology has important contribution in our lives. Foro de La Industria Nuclear Espanola (2013) points out that it has applications in many different areas, such as: energy, industry, hydrology, agriculture and food, medicine, art, science, space exploration and cosmology.

Baert and Sartor (2006) state that nuclear technology is used in the treatment of some diseases, for example cancer in which radiation enables the detection of tumors. In addition to these nuclear technology’s advantages, the Canadian Nuclear Association (2013) argues that radiation can also be used in the sterilization of consumer’s items, avoiding allergens and irritants. Moreover, Foro Nuclear de La Industria Espanola (2013) supports that radiation presents positive aspects in the quality of food processing, since it avoids microorganisms and preserves the food’s nutrients; besides, this technology is used in the preservation of arts and in the identification of authenticity of artworks.

But the main use of nuclear technology is in energy production, which causes controversy all around the world. The amount of demand for electricity requires the use of different types of power plants and, today, just coal and nuclear power can provide reliable “base-load” capacity (Bolsseman 2007).

Although the use of nuclear energy demands a high cost, because it needs a lot investment to establish a plant (Kukreja 2014), this technology is able to work in bad weather changes and running quickly (Bolsseman 2007).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (2014) considers that the environment is the principal focus of discussion today and, in this case, nuclear energy has a huge potential of energy production. The nuclear technology is compared with forms of energy such as wind and solar, because it doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses during the process of energy production (Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information 2014). Hence, while the world is facing global warming, the use of nuclear power appears an effective way to prevent climate changes and protect the environment (Ryan 2009).

In spite of its advantages, there are serious accidents with the use of nuclear power in the history, such as the accident at Chernobyl (Ukraine) that killed over 2500 people (Ryan 2009). In Japan, the explosion of a nuclear reactor in Fukushima caused fears over the safety of nuclear energy and its potential danger (Rogers 2011).

However, Totty (2008) supports that modern nuclear power plants are safe; in the U.S., for example, ‘nuclear reactors are contained in concrete structures with four feet thick walls’. The Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information (2014) argues also that the United States, during 50-year history of commercial nuclear power, has not killed or injured anybody and cites the Nuclear Energy Institute’s recent studies that demonstrate that it is safer to work in a nuclear power plant than in an office.

‘It is impossible for a reactor to explode like a nuclear weapon; these weapons contain very special materials in very particular configurations, neither of which are present in a nuclear reactor.’

(Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information 2014)

Nuclear power requires uranium which is not a renewable energy and it can be not found in some countries (Kukreja 2014). In face of this, Burgess (2010) considers that there is no energy source that is 100 percent clean and shows as an alternative for nuclear waste the creation of disposal sites.

Ryan (2009) states that although some of the nuclear waste remains


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