Nuclear Dangers on the Doorstep?
By John McMalcolm
Nuclear energy offers many benefits over other forms of energy, ranging from cost-effectiveness to low environmental impact.
However, the production of nuclear energy involves certain risks, and it can have disastrous consequences in the event of a meltdown or other accidents.
Here is a look at five of the most dangerous nuclear power plants in the world.
Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, Bulgaria
The Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria consists of six Soviet-designed reactors, and the first four units do not have any containment structure. If a meltdown occurs, the radiation will spread across the country and the Balkans, and possibly to as far as Italy.
Another problem is that the reactors are not equipped with reliable emergency core cooling systems.
Despite upgrades funded by western countries, the cooling systems, as well as the fire protection systems and controls, fail to meet international safety standards.
Kola Nuclear Power Plant, Russia
The Kola nuclear plant is situated in Murmansk Oblast in the northwestern part of Russia, and it comprises four reactor units.
Three of its reactors have exceeded their 30-year design service lifespan, and they are considered dangerous and illegal. Additionally, the reactors have design and structural defects that are irreparable, and they can potentially contaminate a very large area.
The state and foreign organizations are constantly donating funds to improve the safety of the Kola nuclear plant, but their efforts are largely in vain.
Metsamor Nuclear Power Station, Armenia
Armenia's Metsamor nuclear power station is home to one of the few remaining first-generation water-moderated Soviet-designed reactors that were constructed without containment structures.
Its reactor is close to retirement age, and it is dangerous because of its design and location in a highly earthquake-prone region.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan
Even before it was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was already regarded as one of the riskiest in the world.
The facility is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and it was not properly maintained to meet safety standards. After disaster struck, it contaminated an area of about 4,500 square miles and forced more than 60,000 residents of the Fukushima prefecture to evacuate.
Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, Romania
The Cernavoda nuclear power plant has two reactors, which account for about 20 percent of Romania's power needs.
These reactors have been plagued with problems since they started operating, and they were temporarily shut down on a number of occasions. Also, the plant lies in an area that is relatively vulnerable to earthquakes.
The Potential Risks of Nuclear Power Plants
The main hazard that is associated with nuclear power plants is radiation.
Exposure to nuclear radiation can increase the risk of cancer and genetic diseases, undermine body function and even result in death. Nuclear plants also produce radioactive waste, which can have long-term negative effects on the environment.
Nuclear disasters can potentially cause great damage to human beings, animals, plants and the environment.
As such, governments, utility companies and other organizations should take adequate measures to minimize the risk of nuclear accidents.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who provides helpful tips on a wide range of subjects, from adopting a green lifestyle to finding the right window contractor.
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