Energy Group Assignment – Assignment Example

Energy Group Assignment: Nuclear Power The Nuclear Energy & Science for the Twenty-First Century (NESTFC) (2003) defined nuclear energy as the “energy that is generated through the use of Uranium…created through chemical reactions that involve the splitting or merging of the atoms of nuclei together. The process of splitting an atom’s nucleus is termed fission, and the process of merging the nuclei if atoms is termed merging” (NESTFC 2003, pars. 1 & 2). More simply put, nuclear power is defined by the Britannica Concise Dictionary as “energy produced by nuclear fission of heavy atomic nuclei” (Britannica 2008). The process of fission of the nucleus of the atom in significant amounts is the critical reaction to produce nuclear energy sources from nuclear power plants.
Through time, this source of energy had received tremendous notoriety due to the dangers associated with its use. The dangers posed to lives during the Chernobyl accident could never be forgotten. The accident that happened “at the Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI‑2) nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pa., on March 28, 1979, was the most serious in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history” (U.S. NRC, par. 1). It remains to be a controversial issue because professionals from various fields give antithetical contentions on its safety and beneficial impact to health and to the environment in terms of toxic waste and global warming. Therefore, as government legislators realized the critical nature of nuclear power and the risks associated in operating the plants, a risk assessment process was deemed significant in identifying factors that increase the probabilities of risk.
Risk Assessment
In nuclear power plants, the risk assessment entails identification of technical and social risks associated in harnessing this energy source. Technical risk is defined as “exposure to loss arising from activities such as design and engineering, manufacturing, technological processes and test procedures” (Business Dictionary, par. 1). For nuclear power plants, the technical risks are as follows: (1) mechanical or electrical failure which could occur during normal processing; (2) build up of heat could automatically shut down some machines like turbine and reactor; and (3) failure of some instruments to measure temperature (coolness or excess heat) that could trigger repercussions that confuse operators and thereby make wrong decisions based on inaccurate assessments of identified sources of technical failure.
On the other hand, a social based risk is the perception of concern or uncertainty in consumer’s mind regarding nuclear power, in general, and how it is approved by others. There are contrasting perceptions of nuclear power as a source of energy due to the dangers it poses in the management of nuclear wastes. According to an article published in How to Power the World, “the waste products of nuclear power contain “high levels of radioactive (materials which) is very dangerous. It lasts for tens of thousands of years before decaying to safe levels. It is highly radioactive and is probably the biggest hurdle we face if nuclear power is going to be taken seriously” (How to Power the World 2010).
Risk Management Plan
Nuclear power has great potentials to augment sources of energy in the future. It use, however, should be further evaluated in terms its long term effect to the environment and the risks it poses to the existence of mankind. One critical solution to enhance risk management is to clearly evaluate the need to upgrade and strengthen plant design, including all machines, therein. There should be emergency shut off points at critical levels with appropriate fire protection system. Operators at all points of operations should be given emergency response procedures and clear instructions of risk management issues. Regular inspection programs must be implemented to enhance safety and security. Continuous research and development on management of wastes and environmental impact of nuclear power harnessing must be done to improve operations and ensure compliance to ethical and environmental standards required to prevent global warming.
Works Cited
Britannica Concise Dictionary. Definition of Nuclear Power. 2008. Web. 04 October 2010.

Business Dictionary. Definition of Technical Risk. 2010. Web. 04 October 2010.
< http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/technical-risk.html>
How to Power the World. Disadvantages of Nuclear Power. 2010. Web. 04 October 2010.

Nuclear Energy & Science for the Twenty-First Century (NESTFC). Nuclear Energy. 2003.
Web. 04 October 2010.
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Backgrounder on the Three Mile Island Accident.
11 August 2009. Web. 04 October 2010.