Environmental Effects Of Nuclear Reactors
Four environmental effects to consider when looking at nuclear reactors :
• Uranium mining
• Nuclear waste
• Nuclear meltdown
Term for a severe nuclear reactor accident. This can occur when a nuclear power plant system or component failure causes the reactor core to no longer be properly controlled and cooled to the extent that the sealed nuclear fuel assemblies --- which contain the uranium or plutonium and highly radioactive fission products --- begin to overheat and melt . A meltdown is considered very serious because of the possibility that the reactor containment will be defeated, thus releasing the core’s highly radioactive and toxic elements into the atmosphere and environment.
From an engineering perspective, a meltdown is likely to cause serious damage to the reactor, and possibly total destruction. Several nuclear meltdowns of differing severity have occurred, from localized core damage to complete destruction of the reactor core. In some cases this has required extensive repairs or decommissioning of a nuclear reactor. In the most extreme cases, such as the Chernobyl disaster deaths have resulted and the near-permanent civilian evacuation of a large area was required.
This occurs as a result of the rapid release of energy from an intentionally high-speed nuclear reaction. The driving reaction may be nuclear fission, nuclear fusion or a multistage cascading combination of the two, though to date all fusion based weapons have used a fission device to initiate fusion, and a pure fusion weapon remains a hypothetical device .
Uranium mining is the process of extraction of uranium ore from the ground. As uranium ore is mostly present at relatively low concentrations, most uranium mining is very volume-intensive, and thus tends to be undertaken as open-pit mining. It is also undertaken in only a small...