Essay On Ethical Problems of Uranium Power Plants


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Ethical Problems With Respect to Uranium Fuelled Power Plants


The ethical problems can be divided into three main areas of ethical dilemma that may be faced the authorities; economic development, social equity and justice, and environmental factors.

1.Economic Development

The ethical viewpoints that arise under economic development include; high capital cost and high operation costs.
High capital cost – Building a nuclear power plant requires an enormous upfront cost and it becomes very expensive to build and finance a nuclear power plant. Even though the expected capital returns may be very huge, they are usually slow and can take a decades to recover initial costs.

High operating costs – The high operating costs are due to waste disposal costs and decommissioning costs. The radioactive wastes produced by nuclear plants have to be stored, transported and disposed at a cost. When the plant’s lifetime comes to the end, the plant has to be decommissioned and this may cost hundreds of millions of dollars or even billions. This makes decommissioning a plant that has undergone a meltdown difficult and expensive (Taebi, 2012).

2.Social Equity and justice

The ethical viewpoints that may arise under social equity and justice include; secrecy and injustice
Secrecy – An example of this kind of ethical issue is the disposal of nuclear wastes. Little information is provided to the general public about the disposal of nuclear wastes. This is closely related to corruption, especially when disposal of nuclear wastes involves corrupt officials at the nuclear authorities.

Injustice – The effects of using uranium in power plants on uranium miners and communities around nuclear power generation plants are very devastating. The authorities usually have a sorry history of the effects caused by uranium, with little acknowledgement or little compensation to victims, who in most cases, are ignored. Populations in areas that act as dumping grounds for uranium wastes are affected by the radioactive effects of the substance. Minority communities are biased in the process of risk assessment and making of decisions. Uranium is a non-renewable resource and with time, it will be unavailable to future generations (Taebi, Roeser and Poel, 2012).

3.Environmental Factors

Under this area, the ethical viewpoints arising include; radioactive uranium wastes and emissions.
Radioactive uranium wastes – The ethics of this ethical dilemma have been always mind blogging with nuclear authorities either ignoring the whole subject altogether, or keep their faith that one time a solution will be found. In most cases, mining and dumping of uranium occurs in rural and remote areas occupied by indigenous populations, who don’t really matter to the mining authorities. The unethical aspect of uranium wastes is that the future generations are to be left with the problem and no better solution has been found for these wastes, with many authorities getting contented to continue using uranium in power plants (Taebi and Roeser, 2015).

Emissions – Nuclear power plants release radioactive substances such as carbon, tritium, iodine, plutonium, strontium etc. which are emitted into the atmosphere and contaminate both soil and water. When these substances find their way into the bodies of organisms, they can be cancergenic and mutagenic. The hot wastewater from nuclear power plants interfere with aquatic life when released into rivers. There are permitted maximum levels for these substances, but authorities still approve levels surpassing the maximum allowed through wastewater and exhaust air (Harrison and Hester, 2011).

References

Harrison, Roy M. and Ronald E. Hester. Nuclear Power and the Environment. London: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2011.
Taebi, Behnam and Sabine Roeser. The Ethics of Nuclear Energy: Risk, Justice and Democracy in the Post-Fukushima Era. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Taebi, Behnam. Ethics of Nuclear Power: How to Understand Sustainability in the Nuclear Debate. Netherlands: Delft University of Technology, 2012.
Taebi, Behnam, Sabine Roeser and Ibo van de Poel. "The ethics of nuclear power: Social experiments, intergenerational justice, and emotions." Science Direct (2012): 202-206.