Nuclear energy is often seen as a dangerous source of power, but the truth is that it is one of the safest sources of energy available. Despite the high-profile disasters that have occurred in the past, nuclear energy is actually associated with very few deaths per terawatt-hour (TWh) of electricity produced. This is due to the strict regulations and safety procedures that are in place to protect both the plants and the surrounding communities. The danger of nuclear energy comes from the particles of radiation and energy released from unstable molecules.
These radioactive particles can damage cells or DNA, leading to cancer or genetic mutations. Too much radiation can even be fatal. However, studies have shown that nuclear power plants are much safer than other sources of energy when it comes to producing reliable electricity. The Three Mile Island accident in 1979 was a major turning point for the industry, as it showed that even the worst possible accident would not cause significant public harm.
Operators are responsible for ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants, and they must adhere to strict regulations and procedures. Nuclear power plants require a lot of fossil fuel energy to build and maintain, but they do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while in operation. The main environmental concern related to nuclear energy is the creation of radioactive waste, such as tailings from uranium mills and spent reactor fuel. Long-term storage solutions include burying this waste in deep geological deposits.
Generation IV reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs) are being developed as potential nuclear power plants of the future. Overall, nuclear energy is much safer than other sources of energy, such as fossil fuels. The data shows that nuclear power plants are not as dangerous as they are often portrayed to be. In fact, during the Cold War, neither Russia nor the United States attacked each other's nuclear power plants because they knew that the potential damage would be minimal.