Nuclear energy is safely used in many beneficial ways, including administering medical treatments, controlling crop-destroying insects and exploring space. The electricity produced by nuclear power plants like Susquehanna allows us to enjoy many everyday lifestyle conveniences.
More than 100 nuclear power plants provide about 20 percent of America’s electricity, second only to coal. Worldwide, 30 countries operate more than 430 nuclear plants for electricity generation, currently providing about 16 percent of the world’s energy production.
Of all energy sources, nuclear energy has perhaps the lowest impact on the environment, including water, land, habitat, species and air resources. Because it does not emit harmful air pollutants, the use of nuclear energy helps to keep the air clean, preserve the Earth’s climate, avoid ground-level ozone formation and prevent acid rain.
A nuclear fuel pellet contains a lot of energy. One uranium nuclear fuel pellet the size of the tip of your little finger is equivalent to the energy provided by 1,000 pounds of coal, or 100 gallons of gasoline.
Nuclear Helps Maintain Grid Security and Delivers “Always On” Power
Nuclear energy also is efficient and reliable. Unlike some other energy sources, nuclear energy is not subject to weather or climate conditions, unpredictable cost fluctuations or dependence on foreign suppliers.
Spent Nuclear Fuel
While making electricity, nuclear power plants produce two types of radioactive waste: low- and high-level waste.
Low-level waste can include contaminated rags, papers, filters, tools, equipment, discarded protective clothing and construction rubble. It is generally buried in shallow trenches at one of three U.S. facilities.
High-level waste, also called used nuclear fuel, is uranium that is too weak to power a nuclear reactor economically, but it is more radioactive than new fuel. Used nuclear fuel looks the same as when it was new, and as with new fuel, it cannot explode and does not burn. All the used fuel produced to date by the U.S. nuclear energy industry would cover an area the size of a football field to a depth of about five yards.
Used fuel is being stored at nuclear power plants in water-filled pools or in above-ground concrete-and-steel containers until the federal government opens a permanent repository. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers both methods of onsite storage to be safe. The United States does not reprocess and recycle used nuclear fuel, although other countries do.
The nuclear energy industry is the only industry established since the industrial revolution that has managed and accounted for all of its waste, preventing adverse impacts to the environment.
Learn more by viewing the video below.