The case for nuclear energy
WASHINGTON (TND) — Nuclear energy has made headlines in recent weeks, especially due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But recently, there have been calls to transition from coal and oil to cleaner energy and some think nuclear power is the answer.
The National Desk’s Fact Check Team is looking into whether this type of energy is as dangerous as some say.
Often when people think about nuclear energy, they think of disasters but it’s actually a zero-emission clean energy source.
Nuclear energy is the energy inside the core — the nucleus — of an atom. It generates power through fission, which is the process of splitting uranium atoms.
The heat released creates steam that spins in a turbine, which then generates electricity without those harmful byproducts released by fossil fuels.
Electricity generation from U.S. commercial nuclear power plants started in 1958.
Since 1990, these power plants have supplied about 20% of the country’s electricity generation and at the end of last year, the country had 93 operating commercial reactors at 55 power plants in just over half the states.
The U.S. has the most operational reactors in the world but France is number one when it comes to reliance on nuclear energy.
There has been some pushback on using nuclear energy because of major accidents like Three Mile Island In Pennsylvania and disasters at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union and Japan’s Fukushima. There’s obvious doubt about safety.
There is also concern over radioactive waste, which can be dangerous for thousands of years.
But the U.S. Energy Information Administration says by volume, most of the waste has a relatively low level of radioactivity.
These plants also need to follow strict safety guidelines to protect workers and the public and have emergency plans in place in case of any incidents but right now, there are mixed opinions on nuclear energy.
A recent Pew Research poll shows that just over one-third of Americans say the federal government should encourage the production of nuclear power, while 26% discourage it.
The Biden Administration recently launched a $6 billion plan to revive the country’s nuclear power plants that are at risk of closing.
The administration says the funding will help prevent at-risk nuclear facilities from shutting down prematurely due to economic reasons.
The program is funded through last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that “U. S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals.”