BMUN XII – Environment Committee

Environment – The Question of Nuclear Pollution

 

What are the causes of Nuclear Pollution?

Causes of nuclear pollution consist of: uranium mining, production of nuclear fuel, nuclear power reactors, transportation of nuclear matters, nuclear accidents, nuclear tests carried out by the Defence Personnel and disposal of nuclear waste.

 

Problems with nuclear pollution:

Nuclear pollution can cause serious harm and discomfort to humans and other living organisms.   Presently, no country has efficiently solved the issue of nuclear pollution in terms of radioactive waste storage. Every state would like to send the residues to some other place and be rid of them, while no truly viable conclusion is reached. Storage facilities as such require highly intransigent security and safety rules, periodical checks and regular updates on the storage environment. A responsible management of the nuclear waste would limit the risk of nuclear pollution on the long term, allowing us to live on a cleaner and safer planet, also preventing the temptation of dumping the waste in the oceans.

Nuclear pollution is not the only hazard that comes together with the use of radioactive energy: mass populations are jeopardized on a current basis if something happens to a reactor. With there having been several nuclear disasters including, but not limited to: Chernobyl, Ukraine (1986) and Japan- Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster (2011).

Fish and ocean plants are highly contaminated due to nuclear pollution; Greenpeace has repeatedly signalled out the huge amount of plutonium effluents produced by the nuclear plant on the coasts of England, for instance: lobsters in the area have been found to be contaminated, hence the effects not only on humans but on the entire ecosystem is devastating.

 

 Effects of Nuclear Pollution:

  • Genetic mutations
  • Diseases e.g Cancer, Leukemia, Anemia, haemorrhage.
  • Soil infertility
  • Cell destruction
  • Burns

 

Some Solutions to Nuclear Pollution:

  • Proper method of disposing radioactive waste

As Radioactive Waste can’t be disposed like normal waste, as there is a likelihood of seepage, the waste should be stored in heavy and thick concrete containers. Another option, is to dilute the radiation since storage may not be possible.

  • Banning of nuclear tests

It has already been proven that nuclear power has a lot of latent power that is very destructive. Nevertheless, the tests done to perfect the energy contribute greatly to the overall presence of radioactive substances. Moreover, these tests though done in the deserts end up escaping from one ecosystem to another eventually affecting the lives of many people.

  • Alternative energy sources

Considering the damage and threats nuclear pollution has presented to the planet it may be time for its use to be discontinued and for the world to perhaps focus on alternative and environmentally friendly energy sources – like renewable sources of energy namely Solar, hydro-electric and wind power.

  • Proper storage

It is mandatory for containers carrying radioactive material to be stored properly. For starters, such substances should be stored in radiation proof containers to ensure no seeping or leakage during handling. Proper storage means no harm and can minimize cases of accidental leakage.

 

Countries for nuclear power and what they have done:

15% of our worlds energy comes from nuclear power, with countries including: the United States, Russia, and Canada making nuclear power lucrative, not just through cheap energy, but through licensing their technology to developing countries looking for new resources. Places like Canada have been able to adapt to a more sustainable way of producing nuclear power with them developing an advanced Candu reactor, a light-water-cooled reactor that uses natural non-enriched Uranium. An, American company has also gone about building a radioactive storage facility on Marshall Islands, ignoring the even higher potential threats for nuclear pollution under the circumstances of a growing sea level. Such solutions may appear convenient from a certain perspective, but when considered from a wider point of view, irresponsibility is obvious.  Moreover, countries including: Sweden, India, Ukraine, China and UK continue to be leading/rising leaders in nuclear power. In addition to this, in the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 by 175 countries within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change, there was an agreement for a continued increased role in the use of nuclear power in the longer term.

 

Some countries against nuclear power:

Switzerland, used to have a secure source of nuclear power. However, in response to the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss government decided in 2011 to abandon all plans for new nuclear reactors, and to close the remaining 5 reactors in operation by 2035. In addition to this, although more than half of Belgium’s electricity may be supplied by nuclear energy – the government have decided to start phasing out nuclear power, with all the reactors said to be close by 2025. Germany, is also currently going through a total phaseout of nuclear power.

 

Reasons to be for nuclear power:

  • Low greenhouse gas emissions
  • High power output
  • Inexpensive electricity
  • Nuclear energy does not rely on fossil fuels

 

Reasons to be against nuclear power:

  • Negative environmental impacts
  • Already had several nuclear accidents
  • High up Front and End stage cost
  • Target for Terrorism
  • Not a renewable fuel resource

 

Questions to consider:

  • How can countries cut down on nuclear pollution?
  • Ways in which countries can utilise nuclear power sustainably?
  • What sort of energy should countries be using in the future?
  • How to minimise the impacts that nuclear power has on the environment?
  • How can one stop nuclear pollution?

 

Useful websites:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/01/what-should-we-do-with-radioactive-nuclear-waste

https://www.nirs.org/?s=nuclear+pollution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_nuclear_power

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/environment/nuclear-pollution.php

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/nuclear/nuclear-power-and-the-environment.php

https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/radioactive-waste/