Nuclear reactors

The Fukushima disaster 9 years ago has lead to a negative perception against nuclear power plants. In your paper you will (a) analyze the fallout from the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima, and its public perception using your understanding of the effects of radiation on the human body and environment; (b) analyze the problems facing the management of nuclear waste as nuclear reactors are closed down.


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Your paper should answer ALL of the following questions:


Are the hazards from nuclear reactor disasters much less than what is portrayed in the media and in general public perception, or is the general perception justified? Think of a person who lived near Fukushima and got exposed to 25 rem of radiation. A rem dose of 25 gives a 1/100=1% chance of cancer. Therefore his/her chance of getting cancer has increased from 20% to 21%. But what is the public perception? If this person gets cancer will people believe that the cancer was induced by the accident, even though only 1 out of 21 of such people actually will have their cancer triggered by the radiaoctivity rather than by the usual causes?


How many new reactors are being planned in the US and around the rest of the world today? How does this number compare with the existing number of nuclear reactors? Has this number been affected by the abovementioned nuclear reactor disasters? If a third of the current nuclear reactors are decommissioned in the next 5-10 years how much spent nuclear fuel is there to store? What are the current proposals for storing spent nuclear fuel? What is the problem with the planned nuclear storage? How are countries in Europe planning to manage storage of spent nuclear fuel?


Use standard sources for gathering quantitative information about nuclear reactors like the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US Office of Nuclear Energy, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Note that this is an individual assignment, however, you are encouraged to collaborate with your fellow students. Do not forget to cite your sources.

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