Two sides of a story

Posted: May 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Here are two editorials — each representing different points of views — on nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy: not worth the risk

In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan this past March, many have been questioning if the benefits of nuclear power outweigh its risks. And there should only be one answer to that question – they don’t.

While an earthquake and subsequent tsunami brought on the disaster at the Japanese power plant, the incident still sheds light on to how vulnerable some of the world’s nuclear facilities are – and how incidents like the one that happened at Fukushima aren’t beyond the imagination. And it should be a wake up call to all of those in the U.S. who live near such facilities, and are at risk if such an incident were to occur.

When the horrifying events – which included a partial meltdown of three nuclear reactors – unfolded at the Fukushima plant, officials began to warn those within a 50-mile radius of the facility to evacuate. Imagine that: 50 miles. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are two nuclear power plants that fall within a 50-mile radius of Boston – one in Plymouth, and another in Seabrook, N.H. If a disaster similar to the one at Fukushima were to occur at one of those plants, how would the roughly 650,000 Boston residents – not including those who live in suburbs – evacuate? Where would they go?

What’s more, there are two reactors operating within close proximity to New York City. How that city’s roughly 8 million residents would be able to escape if a horrific disaster occurred is beyond belief.

Nuclear power needs to be brought into the spotlight and scrutinized by top government officials. The claims that it provides cleaner, sustainable energy don’t outweigh the dangers and threats it poses. We need to address the issue here before something like Fukushima or Chernobyl or another Three Mile Island occurs.

***

Nuclear energy: a safe, clean and sustainable power source

Since a terrible, heart-rending incident occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant this past March, many here at home have put a close microscope on nuclear activity in the U.S. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing – since it’s always good to learn more about important issues facing the country – the results of such an examination should not upset or scare most: nuclear power is safe here.

While it is true that the disaster at Fukushima was mishandled and probably could have been significantly avoided if government officials and plant operators had adhered to proactive safety steps, that should not be worrisome to those of us in America. U.S. officials handle nuclear safety much differently than the Japanese do, and perform routine and thorough inspections of all nuclear power plants currently operating in the country.

Additionally, nuclear power – which accounts for 19.6 percent of all electricity in the U.S., according to the Nuclear Energy Institute – is a much safer and cleaner form of energy than many alternatives. It does not pollute or put as many toxins into the air as energy that comes from burning coal or wood.

And no major nuclear disasters have occurred in the U.S. in recent years. The last time anyone perished as a result of an accident at an American nuclear power plant was in 1961, when three plant operators were killed at a plant in Idaho.

We’ve come a long way since 1961 – both in terms of technology, and in terms of our safety standards. It would committing a disservice if we stopped advancing on the nuclear energy front now, because such energy is part of our country’s future.

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