What’s the problem with nuclear power?
On 29 september 1957 a chemical explosion of one of the tanks for radioactive waste occured in Majak, which contaminated an area of around 20000 square kilometers, also with plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24110 years.
On 28 march 1979 a meltdown occured in the nucler power plant of Three Mile Island because the cooling did not work after an emergency shutdown. The cleanup took more than 14 years.
On 26 april 1986 the worst catastrophy in a nuclear power plant so far happened in Chernobyl, which still affects the environment after more than 25 years. Around the former power plant an exclusion zone of 30 km was constituted, which includes an area of 4300 square kilometers.
On 11 march 2011, as a result of a severe earthquake and the tsunami afterwards, a series of several accidents in the six reactors of Fukushima happened. Because of the earthquake, the reactors where switched off automatically, but at the same time the cooling failed, which is mandatory to cool the still active fuel elements and to avoid a nuclear meltdown.
Until 25 March 2011 it is not clear, with which consquences the people have to live in the end, but many people already call this a “second Chernobyl”. On 12 April 2011 the japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officially raised Fukushima from crisis level 5 to level 7. In November 2011 Japan’s sience ministry said that about 8 per cent of the japanese landmass or 30000 square kilometers has been contaminated. So it is like a “second Chernobyl”.
1986 i was 17 years old and remember the impact of the disaster of Chernobyl quite well – back then i lived in Augsburg, as i do today. Southern Germany was strongly affected by the fall-out and till this day, in the year 2011, it is not recommended to eat mushrooms or venison from certain areas in Germany, as the ground is contaminated with caesium-137, which has a half-life of about 30 years.
With less drastic impact dozens of other incidences occured worldwide, where similar disasters could be avoided barely in some cases. Thereby a failure of the cooling of the reactor and the following nuclear meltdown is a central problem.
In Chernobyl 1986 the failure of the power supply should be tested and it should be demonstrated that the running turbines provide enough energy after the cutout to span the time of about 40-60 seconds until the emergency generators are turned on. A test which should have been done already three years earlier, before the start of the regular operation. Because of handling errors and general flaws in the design of the reactor the emergency cutout caused a catastrophic chain reaction with an immense explosion and a nuclear meltdown in the reactor.
In Fukushima the main problem is also the lacking cooling of the reactors, which already caused several explosions and radioactive contamination in the environment.
Apart such problems the processing and final disposal of spent fuel elements is still not solved till this day.
The risks of nuclear power are not controllable!
What can you do?
Support regenerative energy! Look for electricity suppliers who only use regenerative energy sources. This way the development of sustainable energy supply can be supported.