Taking a Stand on Nuclear Energy



Is using nuclear energy worth the risk? Despite the advantages of nuclear energy such as no carbon emissions, carbon-free electricity, and power efficiency, it has bigger disadvantages. Nuclear energy is dangerous and high-risk, expensive, time-consuming, and detrimental to your health. 

Nuclear energy is dangerous because one small-slip up or crack in the system can bring the whole nuclear power plant down. We have already seen the results of these nuclear accidents in past nuclear power plant explosions like the Chernobyl disaster, the Three Mile Island accident, the Windscale fire, and the Fukushima explosion. These nuclear disasters have led to the release of toxic radioactive clouds and waste. We are still dealing with the aftereffects of these explosions and others as well. For hundreds, and maybe even thousands of years, the waste from these accidents will stay radioactive. “We’re still living with the legacy of accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima which released huge amounts of radioactive material. Even without such accidents, nuclear power creates radioactive waste at every stage of production, including uranium mining and reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. Some of this waste will remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, yet nobody knows of a way to safely store it so problems aren’t created for future generations.”1 Also, the risk of nuclear accidents (especially with the older nuclear plants) is very high with our world being prone to sea-level rise, storms, and fires because of climate change. Overall, the risk factor of operating nuclear power plants is just too high.

Nuclear energy is extremely expensive. It is expensive to prepare the site where the nuclear plant will be built and the construction will be expensive too. “Capital costs, which include the cost of site preparation, construction, manufacture, commissioning and financing a nuclear power plant.”2 The manufacturing, as well as the commissioning of the plant, will also be expensive. It is expensive to operate the plant because you need fuel and fuel is expensive. Also, keeping up with the maintenance of the plant is expensive. Exposing nuclear waste is expensive too.  “Plant operating costs, which include the costs of fuel, operation and maintenance (O&M), and a provision for funding the costs of decommissioning the plant and treating and disposing of used fuel and wastes.”2 If an accident or explosion were to occur, it would also be expensive to recover. There are other renewable energy sources that cost less than nuclear energy. “According to the US Energy Information Agency, the average nuclear power generating cost is about $100 per megawatt-hour. Compare this with $50 per megawatt-hour for solar and $30 to $40 per megawatt-hour for onshore wind.”3 Our country is already too high in debt so it would be more affordable to rely on cheaper renewable sources for energy. 

Nuclear energy is very time-consuming. It can take anywhere from five years to decades to build a nuclear power plant. “Typically a nuclear power plant will take over five years to construct whereas natural gas-fired plants are frequently built in about two years.”2 We could be building alternative energy plants that take less time, like solar farms for example, that only take around three months to build. We could find alternative ways to slow down climate change a lot faster. Nuclear power plants need time to be built and time to slow down climate change and save our planet is running out quickly. 

Nuclear energy can be very detrimental to your health. If a nuclear accident were to occur at a power plant, all the residents of the area and neighboring residents will be affected by the radioactive materials being released into the air. Radioactive materials don’t just get inside the body through the air but also through food or drinks that have been contaminated. People that are exposed to this radiation may experience cardiovascular diseases and cancer in the long term. “Radioactive materials in the plume from the nuclear power plant can settle and contaminate people who are outdoors, buildings, food, water, and livestock. Radioactive materials can also get inside the body if people breathe it in, or eat or drink something that is contaminated. People living close to the nuclear power plant who are exposed to radiation could experience long-term health effects such as cancer.”4 Millions of people (especially in America) live near nuclear power plants. “If you live in the U.S., there’s a fairly decent chance you live near a nuclear power plant: More than 120 million Americans are within 50 miles of a reactor.”5 That means the health risks of those millions are high if a nuclear accident were to happen. 

In conclusion, nuclear energy should not be used because of how dangerous and high-risk, expensive, time-consuming, and detrimental to your health it is. Nuclear energy is not the smart option and it’s not worth the risk. We can find safer, more economical, and faster ways to beat climate change. 



  1. Greenpeace – https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/nuclear-power/ 
  2. World Nuclear Association – https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/economics-of-nuclear-power.aspx 
  3. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/the-false-promise-of-nuclear-power-in-an-age-of-climate-change/ 
  4. Centers for Disease and Control Center (CDC) – https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/multimedia/infographics/nuclear_power_plant_accidents.html 
  5. Fast Company – https://www.fastcompany.com/3028063/how-far-do-you-live-from-a-nuclear-power-plant#:~:text=If%20you%20live%20in%20the,distance%20from%20the%20nearest%20plants