Published Date : Dec 17, 2015
In recent times, nuclear power has emerged as one of the best bets for countries to fulfil their energy needs. The United States is the largest producer of nuclear power across the globe and accounts for over 30% of nuclear generation of electricity worldwide. Data released by the World Nuclear Association states that 798 billion kWh of electricity was produced by 100 nuclear reactors in the U.S. in 2014. This accounts for more than 19% of the total energy output in the year. Though nuclear power has been gaining wide adoption in the U.S. with various favourable policies such as Energy Policy Act 2005, thermal power is still the dominant source in the power mix. While the production of thermal power generates large amounts of green house emissions, nuclear power generation is also affecting the environment significantly.
According to scientists, radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached the North American shores. In 2011, meltdown at Japan’s nuclear power plant site led to leakage of radioactive isotopes. The leakage is still continuing even after four years and researchers have pointed out that the radioisotope contamination is increasing. However, the levels of radioisotopes in Pacific Ocean water is still too low to pose as a threat to human or marine life.
In the U.S., the presence of radioisotope cesium-137 and cesium-134 has been detected across Washington, California, and Oregon coasts. The radioisotope contamination has been found in offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island as well. The nuclear power plant leakage at Fukushima plant has been the worst since Chernobyl in 1986. While growing demand for energy has increased the importance of nuclear power, the grave effects of radioisotope leakage through accidents will make way for stringent environmental laws.