Sep 11, 2013

Nuclear Dangers on the Doorstep?

3 min
By John McMalcolm Nuclear energy offers many benefits over other forms of energy, ranging from cost-effectiveness to low environmental imp...

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.

Nuclearpowerplantcoolingtowersb.jpgAbout 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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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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