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Lindsey Ganzert

Ms. Sparrow
Chemistry/period 4
10 April 2014
Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is a form of energy produced by an atomic reaction, capable of producing
an alternative source of electrical power to that supplied by coal, gas, or oil. Nuclear fission is
the process where a heavy atomic nucleus is split into two or more smaller nuclei and energy is
released. As of 2013, nuclear power in the United States is provided by 100 commercial reactors.
Chernobyl is a city in the restricted Chernobyl Exclusion Zone situated in northern Kiev
Oblast, Ukraine near the border with Belarus. The city had been the administrative centre of the
Chernobyl Raion since 1932. The city was evacuated in 1986 owing to the Chernobyl disaster at
the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located 9 miles north-northwest. The power plant was
within Chernobyl Raion District, but the city was not the residence of the power plant workers.
When the power plant was under construction, Pripyat, a city larger and closer to the power
plant, had been built as home for the power plant workers. After the accident the Chernobyl
Raion administration was transferred to the neighboring Ivankiv Raion. Though the city today is
mostly uninhabited, a small number of people reside in houses marked with signs stating that the
"Owner of this house lives here". Workers on watch and administrative personnel of the Zone of
Alienation are stationed in the city on a long term basis. Prior to its evacuation, the city was
inhabited by about 14,000 residents. The city of Slavutych was built specifically for the
evacuated population of Chernobyl.

On March 11, 2011, the northeast coast of Japan was shaken by a massive undersea
earthquake rated 9.0 on the Richter scale and the resulting tsunami. This was simply the most
intense earthquake in recent history that Japan has faced. Actually, even this massive earthquake
did not damage the Fukushima nuclear plant. After all, nuclear plants are built to withstand
severe earthquakes - and that is exactly what happened here, too. The nuclear plant did not suffer
structural damage because of the earthquake. Nevertheless, the huge earthquake caused loss of
electricity from the grid to the plant. At the time of the natural disaster, there were three reactors
under operation at the plant site, while three were under maintenance. Immediately, upon loss of
off-site power, the reactors were automatically brought to a safe shutdown state, as designed, and
core reactor cooling was established with power from onsite emergency diesel generators. But
the tsunami that followed soon flooded the plant premises, knocking out the onsite emergency
diesel generators, too. It was only after this second blow that the things turned tough. The decay
heat emitted by the fission products is a very small fraction of the reactor full power, but this is
still a significant amount of heat, which needs to be dissipated away. Efforts were initiated for
implementing alternative means to achieve cooling for the reactor cores as well as for spent-fuel
storage pools. The residual heat in the reactor core during the intervening period caused elevated
temperatures. At higher temperatures, there was a significant build up of steam pressure. To
relieve excessive pressure, some controlled venting was resorted to. The higher temperatures also
caused metal-water reaction, leading to the formation of hydrogen gas, which exploded in the
prevailing heat to cause the damage to the roof of the outer concrete containment structure, while
inadequate cooling also lead to a partial melting of the fuel rods. This resulted in some release of
radioactivity, which is more of a diffused nature - but there has not been an "en masse" release of
radioactivity. The hydrogen-gas explosion was a 'chemical' reaction, and NOT a 'nuclear'

explosion as misunderstood by many. Also, it should be noted that the design of nuclear reactors
is such that they cannot explode like nuclear bombs. In order to understand nuclear power better,
it is necessary to know the facts.
Sustainable energy is the sustainable provision of energy that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. I believe
nuclear power is a sustainable energy.