Nuclear Power

Produced by Debating Matters, these materials help your students to debate, analyse and understand issues in contemporary science. These materials look at the topic of nuclear power and asks should we abandon it in the light of the Fukushima power plant incident? On 11 March 2011, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake which triggered a massive tsunami. Massive waves crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Japan’s eastern coast. These devastating waves caused serious damage to the nuclear plant, including fires and explosions in the reactors. In the wake of the disaster, countries including Germany and Italy announced decisions to discontinue their nuclear-power programmes. Meanwhile, in the UK, the go-ahead has been given to start work on pre-construction of Britain’s first new nuclear-power station for 20 years. Should the disaster at Fukushima, and others like it over the years, force us to take a step back and consider whether such a potentially dangerous energy source is worth the risk for the energy it provides? Might other sources of energy, such as renewables or shale gas, be a better investment long term? Or would abandoning nuclear at this stage be an over-reaction to what is still a relatively minor accident? If we were to abandon nuclear, how would we meet demand for our ever-increasing energy needs?

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