This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface


Water Pollution and Inadequate Sanitation



Download 4.42 Mb.
Page123/137
Date31.05.2016
Size4.42 Mb.
1   ...   119   120   121   122   123   124   125   126   ...   137

Water Pollution and Inadequate Sanitation


Water quality is also a serious problem. Drinking water is often unsafe because of poor sanitation procedures for human waste in poor nations and because of industrial discharge into lakes, rivers, and streams in wealthy nations. Inadequate sanitation and unsafe drinking water cause parasitic infections and diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, cholera, intestinal worms, typhoid, and hepatitis A. The World Health Organization estimates that unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation cause the following number of annual deaths worldwide: (a) 2.5 million deaths from diarrhea, including 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhea; (b) 500,000 deaths from malaria; and (c) 860,000 child deaths from malnutrition. At least 200 million more people annually suffer at least one of these serious diseases due to inadequate sanitation and unsafe drinking water (Cameron, Hunter, Jagals, & Pond, 2011; Prüss-Üstün, Bos, Gore, & Bartram, 2008). [23]

Nuclear Power


Nuclear power has been an environmental controversy at least since the 1970s. Proponents of nuclear power say it is a cleaner energy than fossil fuels such as oil and coal and does not contribute to global warming. Opponents of nuclear power counter that nuclear waste is highly dangerous no matter how it is disposed, and they fear meltdowns that can result if nuclear power plant cores overheat and release large amounts of radioactive gases into the atmosphere.

The most serious nuclear plant disaster involved the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine in 1986. Chernobyl’s core exploded and released radioactive gases into the atmosphere that eventually spread throughout Europe. The amount of radiation released was four hundred times greater than the amount released by the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima at the end of World War II. About five-dozen people (Chernobyl workers or nearby residents) soon died because of the disaster. Because radiation can cause cancer and other health problems that take years to develop, scientists have studied the health effects of the Chernobyl disaster for the last quarter-century. According to the United Nations Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), an estimated 27,000 additional cancer deaths worldwide will eventually result from the Chernobyl disaster (Gronlund, 2011). [24]

Seven years earlier in March 1979, a nuclear disaster almost occurred in the United States at the Three Mile Island plant in central Pennsylvania. A series of technological and human failures allowed the plant’s core to overheat to almost disastrous levels. The nation held its breath for several days while officials sought to bring the problem under control. During this time, some 140,000 people living within twenty miles of the plant were evacuated. The near disaster severely weakened enthusiasm for nuclear power in the United States, and the number of new nuclear plants dropped sharply in the ensuing two decades (Fischer, 1997). [25]

Japan was the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in March 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged a nuclear plant in the Fukushima region, 155 miles north of Tokyo. More than 80,000 residents had to be evacuated because of the massive release of radioactive gases and water, and they remained far from their homes a year later as high levels of radiation continued to be found in the evacuated area. A news report on the anniversary of the disaster described the desolation that remained: “What’s most striking about Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone is what you don’t see. There are no people, few cars, no sign of life, aside from the occasional livestock wandering empty roads. Areas once home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time. Homes ravaged from the powerful earthquake that shook this region nearly a year ago remain virtually untouched. Collapsed roofs still block narrow streets. Cracked roads make for a bumpy ride” (Fujita, 2012). [26] It will take at least thirty years to fully decommission the damaged reactors at Fukushima. The news report said, “This nuclear wasteland may not be livable for decades” (Fujita, 2012). [27]

In February 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a study that said the risk from nuclear power accidents in the United States was “very small.” If an accident should occur, the NRC concluded, plant operators would have time to cool down reactor cores and prevent or reduce the emission of radiation (DiSavino, 2012). [28] However, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is more concerned about this risk (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2011).[29] It says that several US reactors are of the same design as the Fukushima reactors and thus potentially at risk for a similar outcome if damaged by an earthquake. According to the UCS, “If [these reactors] were confronted with a similar challenge, it would be foolish to assume the outcome would not also be similar.” It adds that although earthquakes can cause fires at reactors, US plants routinely violate fire protection standards. A news report on the similarities between US nuclear power plants and the Fukushima plant reached a similar conclusion, noting that US nuclear power plants “share some or all of the risk factors that played a role at Fukushima” (Zeller, 2011). [30]

As this conclusion implies, nuclear power critics say NRC oversight of the nuclear industry is too lax. A 2011 investigation by the Associated Press (AP) yielded support for this criticism (Donn, 2011). [31]The AP found that the NRC has been “working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or simply failing to enforce them.” The report continued, “Time after time, officials at the [NRC] have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril.” For example, when certain valves at nuclear plants leaked, the NRC revised its regulations to permit more leakage. Also, when cracking of steam generator tubes allowed radiation to leak, standards on tubing strength were weakened. And when reactors began to violate temperature standards, the NRC almost doubled the permitted temperatures. The investigation found “thousands” of problems in aging reactors that it said the NRC have simply ignored, and it concluded that a “cozy relationship” exists between the NRC and the nuclear industry.

A retired NRC engineer interviewed by the AP agreed that his former employer too often accommodated the nuclear industry by concluding that existing regulations are overly stringent. “That’s what they say for everything, whether that’s the case or not,” the engineer said. “They say ‘We have all this built-in conservatism.’”


Directory: site -> textbooks
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License
textbooks -> Preface for Teachers
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface
textbooks -> Chapter 1 Introduction to Law and Legal Systems
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a
textbooks -> This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Organization


Share with your friends:
1   ...   119   120   121   122   123   124   125   126   ...   137




The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page