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What are the potential consequences of using nuclear energy?

I’m answering questions for one of my classes and this is one of them: What are the potential consequences of using nuclear energy?
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3 Responses to “What are the potential consequences of using nuclear energy?”

  1. lovs2jokearound said:

    he Price-Anderson Act was originally passed in 1957 as an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. The two major objectives of the statute were to ensure adequate compensation to the victims of a nuclear power plant accident, and to promote private industry’s participation in the development of nuclear power by limiting its liability in the event of an accident.12

    Although the Price-Anderson Act was envisioned to last just ten years, at which point utilities would have gained enough operating experience to convince insurance companies that nuclear power plants were a good risk, Price-Anderson remains in effect today, having been renewed twice.13

    In the face of consistently dire projections about the potential consequences of nuclear power plant accidents, the private insurance industry has never been willing to assume more than a fraction of the nuclear industry’s projected insurance needs. Prior to the passage of Price-Anderson, an Atomic Energy Commission-initiated report known as WASH-740 estimated that a major “worst-case” reactor accident could cause 3,400 deaths, 43,000 injuries, and $7 billion in property damage.14

    When WASH-740 was revised in 1964-65 to account for the larger reactors then being designed, the new figures indicated that there could be as many as 45,000 deaths, 100,000 injuries, and $17 billion in property damage. A study known as WASH-1400, released in October 1975, concluded that a rare core melt could cause up to 3,300 early fatalities, 45,000 early illnesses, and $17 billion in property damage. In November 1982, Sandia National Laboratories concluded in its CRAC2 study that the consequences of accidents may vary a great deal depending upon the reactor site, and under unfavorable conditions early fatalities could reach 50,000 and property damage could run as high as $314 billion.15

    Despite the potentially massive dimensions of a major nuclear power plant accident, the original Price-Anderson Act provided a $560 million limit on liability for nuclear power plant operators, consisting of the maximum amount ($60 million) of private insurance available and $500 million from the federal government. In addition, contractors working under the AEC were shielded from all liability, with the federal government insuring them with the same $500 million ceiling. In the event that an accident resulted in damages exceeding these figures, Congress was charged with the obligation to “thoroughly review the particular incident and…take whatever action is deemed necessary and appropriate to protect the public from the consequences of a disaster of such magnitude.”16

    When Price-Anderson was renewed in 1966, a new provision known as the Extraordinary Nuclear Occurrence (ENO) was added. In the event of an ENO, defined as “an event resulting in substantial offsite release of radiation and likely to result in significant personal injury or damage to property,” the licensee or contractor was required to waive traditional defense of State tort laws in order to facilitate recovery by plaintiffs. Another 1966 amendment enhanced the insurance pool’s ability to make emergency assistance payments following a nuclear accident. Still, total overall liability coverage remained the same.17

    Under the terms established by the amended and renewed 1977 Price-Anderson Act, utilities were made liable for up to $700 million, drawn from a combination of industry-financed insurance and an assessment of $5 million on each reactor in operation.18 The assessment, created by a 1977 amendment to the act, effectively phased out federal indemnity of NRC licensees.19 Congress is still required to review any case where damages exceed these liability limits.20

    In July 1986, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report titled “Financial Consequences of a Nuclear Power Plant Accident.” In the report they analyzed, on a reactor-by-reactor basis, how “average catastrophic accident consequences” compare with the liability ceiling provided for by Price-Anderson. The report concluded that, under the [then] $665 million Price-Anderson limit, only 4 percent of all potentially serious reactor accidents would be adequately covered, and a $6.5 billion limit would cover 95 percent of the reactors. The report also stated that, according to NRC officials, the financial consequences of a catastrophic accident under severe weather conditions could be up to 10 times greater than average consequences.21

    On July 31, 1987, the House of Representatives approved a bill which re-authorized the Price-Anderson Act, raising the liability of utilities to $7 billion in the event of a nuclear power plant accident. The bill is currently pending in the Senate. In the meantime, those plants currently holding construction permits or operating licenses are insured under the terms established by the 1977 Price-Anderson legislation.22

  2. wjllope said:

    less pollution from burning coal/natural gas/fossil fuels.

    having to deal with the waste, which is hot.

    having to deal with people/politicians that are overly afraid of nuclear energy and hence fight the construction of new reactors. these people don’t realize that modern reactors (e.g. pebble bed) simply cannot go critical.

    space exploration. a number of space probes (e.g. cassini) use radioactive materials to generate the power that the space probe needs to function.

  3. Nukemann said:

    I believe the potential consequences are:
    1. Energy Independence
    2. Improved economy
    3. Technological advances due to reliable, plentiful, energy
    4. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions / air pollution
    5. Increased use of hydrogen power
    6. Increased need for secure storage of high level radioactive waste
    7. Improved fuel reprocessing process
    8. Reduction in fear of all things nuclear due to improved understanding (reactors are made to go “critical” it is how the heat is produced and sustained) of the fission process.
    9. Improved reactor design / maintenance practices due to increased experience
    10. Decreased unemployment / more high paying jobs
    I have some very good resources listed below for details / explainations and reference. Good luck on your class!


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