By Tammy Podunovich

Nuclear Energy What Is It?

Nuclear energy is a form of energy that is within a nucleus of all atoms. Once the energy is discharged from the atoms this will provide access to two kinds of nuclear energy.  The two processes of extracting “nuclear energy” that is formed is “nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.  In nuclear fusion energy is released when the atoms are combined to form a larger atom.  In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms releasing energy which is used to produce electricity” (“What is nuclear”, 2017).

Chernobyl 1986

The year was 1986 when a disastrous nuclear mishap occurred to one of the reactors at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine.  This event has been identified as the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe.  As a result this nuclear catastrophe has exposed many civilians to long-term health problems which were caused by a massive exposure to radiation.  For example, the radiation effected the population including children and surviving employees of Chernobyl.  However, the children did experience a great deal of radiation reactions causing a large number of “thyroid cancers due to an intake of radioactive iodine fallout” (“Chernobyl Accident 1986”, 2016).  Furthermore, about 30 years later many civilians living in the surrounding area of Chernobyl are still suffering from the long-term effects of radiation causing numerous health problems. According to Lallanilla, “the surrounding area of Chernobyl nuclear power plant will not be safe for human habitation for at least 20,000 years” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).

What Happened In Chernobyl 1986?

According to the UNSCEAR (U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, “the plant operators were preparing to complete a routine maintenance checks on reactor number 4 even though the reactor’s condition appeared highly unsteady.  In violation of safety regulations, the operators disabled the plant equipment including the automatic shutdown” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).  Following the next day an interaction occurred when highly scorching nuclear rods were dropped into cold water, generating endless amounts of steam.  As a result a massive explosion occurred releasing “a 1,000 ton plate covering the reactor core a releasing an enormous amount of radiation into the atmosphere” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).  After the first explosion a second explosion occurred which was more powerful than the first explosion.  The second explosion created strong fires that lasted for hours.  The radiation was also discharged into the atmosphere which includes, “iodine -131, cesium-134 and cesium-137.  However, the iodine has a short half-life of eight days, but is still powerful enough to have harmful effects on the thyroid gland” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).  Other health concerns include headaches and vomiting amongst the workers and the surrounding communities. And evacuation did not take into effect until three days after the explosion.  By this time many of the workers and civilians were already suffering from radiation poisoning. Altogether 30 people died from this massive explosion.  This includes “two Chernobyl plant workers died the night of the accident, and 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).  Furthermore, physicians were also concerned with the possibilities of pregnant women giving birth to children with disabilities and birth defects.  A great deal of physicians carefully advised pregnant women to consider an abortion due to the possibility of their children developing birth defects.  As a result “the damaged reactor was sealed in a concrete sarcophagus intended to contain the remaining radiation.  How effective is this sarcophagus is a debate amongst the scientific community” (“Chernobyl: Facts About”, 2013).

Is Nuclear Energy Safe To Use?

Nuclear energy is a powerful form of energy that is used in many parts of the world.  Nuclear energy produces electricity which is valuable worldwide.  However, nuclear energy can also be very dangerous.  Nuclear energy could have an effect on the environment such as the massive explosion which occurred decades ago in Chernobyl, which released dangerous and hazardous gasses into the Earths atmosphere.  Is there another way to produce energy in a safe way that will have positive effects on the environment?  Chernobyl was a result in human error which effected many people lives.  Many people are still suffering from the effects of radiation which caused many health problems. It is my opinion, that many lives were affected by Chernobyl’s power plant disaster.  However, may be today technology has changed to where building nuclear power plants and training a crew is better suited with more knowledge and education.  I still think nuclear power plants are dangerous, and I hope the future has better plans for using energy and keeping the environment clean and safe.

In conclusion, Chernobyl was caused by human error, but could have been prevented by following the rules of the UNSCEAR.  If the rules were followed this massive explosion may not have occurred.  This massive explosion caused many deaths.  Today many people are still affected by the radiation which has caused many health problems.  I do feel that nuclear power plants are effective, but can be unsafe.  Hopefully in the future there will be a better way to build nuclear power plants and to assure safety to the people and the environment.


Chernobyl Accident 1986.  Retrieved November 21, 2017 from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident.aspx

Lallanilla, M. (September 25, 2013).  Chernobyl: Facts About The Nuclear Disaster. Retrieved November 21, 2017 fromhttps://www.livescience.com/39961-chernobyl.html

What is nuclear energy? Retrieved November 21, 2017 from http://www.nnr.co.za/what-is-nuclear-energy/

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