NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear
fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power
plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–
14% of the world's electricity with the U.S., France,
and Japan together accounting for about 50% of
nuclear generated electricity. In 2007, the IAEA reported
there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in
the world, operating in 31 countries. Also, more than
150 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion have been
There is an ongoing debate about the use of nuclear
energy . Proponents, such as the World Nuclear
Association and IAEA, contend that nuclear power is
a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon
emissions. Opponents, such as Greenpeace
International and NIRS, believe that nuclear power
poses many threats to people and the environment.
Almost 0 emissions (very low greenhouse gas emissions).
They can be sited almost anywhere unlike oil which is mostly imported.
The plants almost never experience problems if not from human error, which almost never happens
anyway because the plant only needs like 10 people to operate it.
A small amount of matter creates a large amount of energy.
A lot of energy is generated from a single power plant.
Current nuclear waste in the US is over 90% Uranium. If reprocessing were made legal again in the
US we would have enough nuclear material to last hundreds of years.
A truckload of Uranium is equivalent in energy to 10,000+ truckloads of coal. (Assuming the Uranium
is fully utilized.)
A nuclear aircraft carrier can circle the globe continuously for 30 years on its original fuel while a
diesel fueled carrier has a range of only about 3000 miles before having to refuel.
Modern reactors have two to ten times more efficiency than the old generation reactors currently in
use around the US.
New reactor types have been designed to make it physically impossible to melt down. As the core
gets hotter the reaction gets slower, hence a run-away reaction leading to a melt-down is not
Theoretical reactors (traveling wave) are proposed to completely eliminate any long-lived nuclear
waste created from the process.
Breeder reactors create more usable fuel than they use.
Theoretical Thorium reactors have many of the benefits of Uranium reactors while removing much of
the risk for proliferation as it is impossible to get weapons-grade nuclear materials from Thorium.
Nuclear plants are more expensive to build and maintain.
Proliferation concerns - breeder reactors yield products that could potentially be stolen and turned into an atomic
Waste products are dangerous and need to be carefully stored for long periods of time. The spent fuel is highly
radioactive and has to be carefully stored for many years or decades after use. This adds to the costs. There is
presently no adequate safe long-term storage for radioactive and chemical waste produced from early reactors, such
as those in Hanford, Washington, some of which will need to be safely sealed and stored for thousands of years.
Early nuclear research and experimentation has created massive contamination problems that are still uncontained.
Recently, for instance, underground contamination emanating from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington
State in the U.S. was discovered and threatens to contaminate the Columbia River (the largest river in North America
west of the continental divide).
A lot of waste from early reactors was stored in containers meant for only a few decades, but is well past expiration
and, resultingly, leaks are furthering contamination.
Nuclear power plants can be dangerous to its surroundings and employees. It would cost a lot to clean in case of
There exist safety concerns if the plant is not operated correctly or conditions arise that were unforeseen when the
plant was developed, as happened at the Fukushima plant in Japan; the core melted down following an earthquake
and tsunami the plant was not designed to handle despite the world's strongest earthquake codes.
Many plants, including in the U.S., were designed with the assumption that "rare" events never actually occur, such
as strong earthquakes on the east coast (the New Madrid quakes of the 1800s were much stronger than any east
coast earthquake codes for nuclear reactors; a repeat of the New Madrid quakes would exceed the designed
earthquake resiliency for nuclear reactors over a huge area due to how wide-spread rare but dangerous eastern
North American earthquake effects spread), Atlantic tsunami (such as the 1755 Lisbon quake event, which sent
significant tsunami that caused damage from Europe to the Caribbean) and strong hurricanes which could affect
areas such as New York that are unaccustomed to them (rare, but possibly more likely with global warming)
Mishaps at nuclear plants can render hundreds of square miles of land uninhabitable and unsuitable for any use for
Calder Hall nuclear power station in
the United Kingdom was the world's
first nuclear power station to
produce electricity in commercial
27, 1954, the USSR's Obninsk
Nuclear Power Plant became
the world's first nuclear power
plant to generate electricity for
a power grid, and produced
around 5 megawatts of
High-level radioactive waste
The world's nuclear fleet creates about 10,000 metric tons of
high-level spent nuclear fuel each year. High-level radioactive
waste management concerns management and disposal of highly
radioactive materials created during production of nuclear power.
The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to
the extremely long periods radioactive wastes remain deadly to
living organisms. Of particular concern are two long-lived fission
products, Technetium-99 (half-life 220,000 years) and Iodine129 (half-life 15.7 million years), which dominate spent nuclear
fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years. The most
troublesome transuranic elements in spent fuel are Neptunium237 (half-life two million years) and Plutonium-239 (half-life
24,000 years).Consequently, high-level radioactive waste
requires sophisticated treatment and management to successfully
isolate it from the biosphere. This usually necessitates treatment,
followed by a long-term management strategy involving
permanent storage, disposal or transformation of the waste into a
The most important waste stream
from nuclear power plants is spent
nuclear fuel. It is primarily composed
of unconverted uranium as well as
significant quantities of
transuranic actinides (plutonium
and curium, mostly). In
addition, about 3% of it is fission
products from nuclear reactions. The
actinides (uranium, plutonium, and
curium) are responsible for the bulk of
the long-term radioactivity, whereas
the fission products are responsible
for the bulk of the short-term
This graph illustrates the potential rise in CO2 emissions if
base-load electricity currently produced in the U.S. by nuclear
power were replaced by coal or natural gas as current reactors
go offline after their 60 year licenses expire. Note: graph
assumes all 104 American nuclear power plants receive
license extensions out to 60 years.
The economics of new nuclear power plants is a
controversial subject, since there are diverging views on
this topic, and multi-billion dollar investments ride on the
choice of an energy source. Nuclear power
plants typically have high capital costs for building the
plant, but low fuel costs. Therefore, comparison with
other power generation methods is strongly dependent
on assumptions about construction timescales and
capital financing for nuclear plants as well as the future
costs of fossil fuels and renewables as well as for
energy storage solutions for intermittent power sources.
Cost estimates also need to take into account plant
decommissioning and nuclear waste storage costs. On
the other hand measures to mitigate global
warming, such as a carbon tax or carbon emissions
trading, may favor the economics of nuclear power.
In recent years there has been a slowdown of electricity demand growth and
financing has become more difficult, which has an impact on large projects
such as nuclear reactors, with very large upfront costs and long project cycles
which carry a large variety of risks. In Eastern Europe, a number of longestablished projects are struggling to find finance, notably Belene in Bulgaria
and the additional reactors at Cernavoda in Romania, and some potential
backers have pulled out. Where cheap gas is available and its future supply
relatively secure, this also poses a major problem for nuclear projects.
Analysis of the economics of nuclear power must take into account who bears
the risks of future uncertainties. To date all operating nuclear power plants
were developed by state-owned or regulated utility monopolies where many of
the risks associated with construction costs, operating performance, fuel
price, accident liability and other factors were borne by consumers rather than
suppliers. In addition, because the potential liability from a nuclear accident is
so great, the full cost of liability insurance is generally limited/capped by the
government, which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded
constituted a significant subsidy. Many countries have now liberalized
the electricity market where these risks, and the risk of cheaper competitors
emerging before capital costs are recovered, are borne by plant suppliers and
operators rather than consumers, which leads to a significantly different
evaluation of the economics of new nuclear power plants.
Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, costs are likely to go up for
currently operating and new nuclear power plants, due to increased
requirements for on-site spent fuel management and elevated design basis
Nuclear and radiation accidents
Some serious nuclear and radiation accidents have
occurred. Nuclear power plant accidents include
the Chernobyl disaster(1986), Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
disaster (2011), and the Three Mile Island
accident (1979). Nuclear-powered submarine mishaps
include the K-19 reactor accident (1961), the K-27 reactor
accident (1968) and the K-431 reactor accident
(1985). International research is continuing into safety
improvements such as passively safe plants,and the possible
future use of nuclear fusion.
Nuclear power has caused far fewer accidental deaths per
unit of energy generated than other major forms of power
generation. Energy production from coal, natural gas, and
hydropower have caused far more deaths due to accidents
.However, nuclear power plant accidents rank first in terms of
their economic cost, accounting for 41 percent of all property
damage attributed to energy accidents.
Nuclear power organizations
Friends of the Earth International, a
network of environmental
organizations in 77 countries.
Greenpeace Internatioal, a nongovernmental environmental
ganization with offices in 41
Nuclear Information and Resource
Sortir du nucléaire (Canada)
Sortir du nucléaire (France)
Pembina Institute (Canada)
Institute for Energy and
Environmental Research (United
World Nuclear Association, a
confederation of companies connected
with nuclear power production.
International Atomic Energy
Nuclear Energy Institute (United
American Nuclear Society (United
United Kingdom Atomic Energy
Authority (United Kingdom)
Atomic Energy of Canada
Environmentalists for Nuclear
Nuclear power plant is the fourth largest source
of electricity in India after thermal, hydroelectric and renewable
sources of electricity. As of 2010, India has 20 nuclear reactors in
operation in six nuclear power plants, generating 4,780 MW while
seven other reactors are under construction and are expected to
generate an additional 5,300 MW.
In October 2010, India drew up "an ambitious plan to reach a
nuclear power capacity of 63,000 MW in
2032". However, especially since the March 2011
Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, "populations around
proposed Indian NPP sites have launched protests that are now
finding resonance around the country, raising questions about
atomic energy as a clean and safe alternative to fossil
fuels". Assurances by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that all
safety measures will be implemented, have not been
heeded, and there have thus been mass protests against the
French-backed 9900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in
Maharashtra and the 2000 MW Koodankulam Nuclear Power
Plant in Tamil Nadu. The state government of West Bengal state
has also refused permission to a proposed 6000 MW facility near
the town of Haripur that intended to host six Russian reactors.
NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN
220 x 4
220 x 2
220 x 2
220 x 2
100 x 1
200 x 1
220 x 4
160 x 2
540 x 2
Nuclear power plant accidents
4 May 1987
Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam refueling accident that
ruptures the reactor core, resulting in a two-year shutdown.
10 September 1989
Operators at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station find that the reactor
had been leaking radioactive iodine at more than 700 times normal
levels. Repairs to the reactor take more than a year.
13 May 1992
A malfunctioning tube causes the Tarapur Atomic Power Station to
release 12 curies of radioactivity.
31 March 1993
The Narora Atomic Power Station suffers a fire at two of its steam
turbine blades, no damage to the reactor. All major cables burnt.
2 February 1995
Kota, Rajasthan, India
The Rajasthan Atomic Power Station leaks radioactive helium and
heavy water into the Rana Pratap Sagar dam, necessitating a twoyear shutdown for repairs.
22 October 2002
Almost 100 kg radioactive sodium at a fast breeder reactor leaks
into a purification cabin, ruining a number of valves and operating
Accidents at nuclear power
plants in India
India currently has twenty nuclear reactors in operation, and their safety record
is far from clean.
Below is a list of leaks, fires and structural damages that have occurred in
India’s civilian nuclear power sector. Numerous other examples of oil leaks,
hydrogen leaks, fires and high bearing vibrations have often shut plants, and
As the Department of Atomic Energy is not obliged to reveal details of ongoings
at these plants to the public, there may be many other accidents that we do not
April 2011 Fire alarms blare in the control room of the Kaiga Generating Station in
Karnataka. Comments by officials alternately say there was no fire, that there was only smoke and
no fire, and that the fire was not in a sensitive area (2). Details from the AERB are awaited.
November 2009 Fifty-five employees consume radioactive material after tritiated water finds its way
into the drinking water cooler in Kaiga Generating Station. The NPCIL attributes the incident to ―an
insider‘s mischief‖ (3).
April 2003 Six tonnes leak of heavy water at reactor II of the Narora Atomic Power Station (NAPS)
in Uttar Pradesh (4), indicating safety measures have not been improved from the leak at the same
reactor three years previously.
January 2003 Failure of a valve in the Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant in Tamil Nadu results
in the release of high-level waste, exposing six workers to high doses of radiation (5). The leaking
area of the plant had no radiation monitors or mechanisms to detect valve failure, which may have
prevented the employees‘ exposure. A safety committee had previously recommended that the
plant be shut down. The management blames the ―over enthusiasm‖ of the workers (6).
May 2002 Tritiated water leaks from a downgraded heavy water storage tank at the tank farm of Rajasthan
Atomic Power Station (RAPS) 1&2 into a common dyke area. An estimated 22.2 Curies of radioactivity is
released into the environment (7).
November 2001 A leak of 1.4 tonnes of heavy water at the NAPS I reactor, resulting in one worker receiving
an internal radiation dose of 18.49 mSv (8).
April 2000 Leak of about seven tonnes of heavy water from the moderator system at NAPS Unit II. Various
workers involved in the clean-up received ‗significant uptakes of tritium‘, although only one had a radiation
dose over the recommended annual limit (9).
March 1999 Somewhere between four and fourteen tonnes (10) of heavy water leaks from the pipes at
Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, during a test process. The pipes have a
history of cracks and vibration problems (11) . Forty-two people are reportedly involved in mopping up the
radioactive liquid (12).
May 1994 The inner surface of the containment dome of Unit I of Kaiga Generating Station collapses
(delaminates) while the plant is under construction. Approximately 130 tonnes of concrete fall from a height of
nearly thirty metres (13), injuring fourteen workers. The dome had already been completed (14), forming the
part of the reactor designed to prevent escape of radioactive material into the environment in the case of an
accident. Fortunately, the core had not then been loaded.
February 1994 Helium gas and heavy water leak in Unit 1 of RAPS. The plant is shut down until March 1997
March 1993 Two blades of the turbine in NAPS Unit I break off, slicing through other blades and indirectly
causing a raging fire, which catches onto leaked oil and spreads through the turbine building. The smoke
sensors fail to detect the fire, which is only noticed once workers see the flames. It causes a blackout in the
plant, including the shutdown of the secondary cooling systems, and power is not restored for seventeen
hours. In the meantime, operators have to manually activate the primary shutdown system. They also climb
onto the roof to open valves to slow the reactions in the core by hand (16). The incident was rated as a Level
3 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, INES.
May 1992 Tube leak causes a radioactive release of 12 Curies of radioactivity from Tarapur Atomic Power
January 1992 Four tons of heavy water spilt at RAPS (17).
December 1991 A leak from pipelines in the vicinity of CIRUS and Dhruva research reactors at the Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Trombay, Maharashtra, results in severe Cs-137 soil contamination of
thousands of times the acceptable limit. Local vegetation was also found to be contaminated, though contract
Following the Fukushima disaster, many are questioning the mass roll-out of
new plants in India, including the World Bank, the former Indian Environment
Minister, Jairam Ramesh, and the former head of the country's nuclear
regulatory body, A. Gopalakrishnan. The massive Jaitapur Nuclear Power
Project is the focus of concern — "931 hectares of farmland will be needed to
build the reactors, land that is now home to 10,000 people, their mango
orchards, cashew trees and rice fields" — and it has attracted many protests.
Fishermen in the region say their livelihoods will be wiped out.
Environmentalists, local farmers and fishermen have been protesting for
months over the planned six-reactor nuclear power complex on the plains of
Jaitapur , 420 km south of Mumbai. If built, it would be one of the world's
largest nuclear power complexes. Protests have escalated in the wake of
Japan's Fukushima I nuclear accidents. During two days of violent rallies in
April 2011, a local man was killed and dozens were injured.
As of October 2011, thousands of protesters and villagers living around the
Russian-built Koodankulam nuclear plant in the southern Tamil Nadu
province, are blocking highways and staging hunger strikes, preventing
further construction work, and demanding its closure as they distrust federal
government assurances regarding safety. They fear there will be a nuclear
accident similar to the radiation leak in March at Japan's Fukushima nuclear
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is a series of equipment failures,
nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I
Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhok earthquake and tsunami on 11
March 2011.It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of
The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed
by General Electric (GE), and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power
Company (TEPCO). At the time of the quake, Reactor 4 had been de-fuelled
while 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance.The remaining
reactors shut down automatically after the earthquake, and emergency
generators came online to control electronics and coolant systems. The
tsunami broke the reactors' connection to the power grid, leading the
reactors to begin to overheat. The flooding and earthquake damage hindered
In the hours and days that followed, reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced full
meltdown. As workers struggled to cool and shut down the reactors, several
hydrogen explosions occurred. The government ordered that seawater be
used to attempt to cool the reactors—this had the effect of ruining the
reactors entirely. As the water levels in the fuel rods pools dropped, they
began to overheat. Fears of radioactivity releases led to a 20 km (12 mi)radius evacuation around the plant, while workers suffered radiation
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
The Japanese government estimates the total amount of
radioactivity released into the atmosphere was
approximately one-tenth as much as was released during
the Chernobyl disaster. Significant amounts of radioactive
material have also been released into ground and ocean
waters. Measurements taken by the Japanese government
30–50 km from the plant showed radioactive caesium levels
high enough to cause concern, leading the government to
ban the sale of food grown in the area. Tokyo officials
temporarily recommended that tap water should not be used
to prepare food for infants.
A few of the plant's workers were severely injured or killed
by the disaster conditions resulting from the earthquake.
There were no immediate deaths due to direct radiation
exposures, but at least six workers have exceeded lifetime
legal limits for radiation and more than 300 have received
significant radiation doses. Future cancer deaths due to
accumulated radiation exposures in the population living
near Fukushima have been estimated to be between 100
and 1,000.Fear of ionizing radiation could have long-term
psychological effects on a large portion of the population in
the contaminated areas. On 16 December 2011 Japanese
authorities declared the plant to be stable, although it would
take decades to decontaminate the surrounding areas and
to decommission the plant altogether.