“How safe is nuclear technology?” Well, this has been the primary question revolving around the mindset of many people since we have become acquainted with the devastating power of nuclear energy.
The inception of nuclear energy definitively brings about greater chances for humanity to outshine its very own limitations, but is the technology really safe?
Nuclear meltdowns and other forms of disasters have been relatively common over the course of the years. It is owing to the fact that even though humanity is now capable of using the energy, they are certainly trailing in terms if harnessing the destructive power.
How safe is nuclear technology?
In order to really understand how safe is nuclear technology; we need to be acquainted with a certain set of mind-boggling facts about nuclear accidents.
5 facts about Chernobyl to blow you off your feet
The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 which took place in the Ukraine is reported to be the worst nuclear accident in history. Territories under the Soviet Union were reported to have high radioactive contamination levels after this disaster, and the area stretches as far as 15,000 square miles. Experts have determined that this area will be affected by the fallout for at least the next 300 years.
Mutations in the trees were pretty common around the affected area of Chernobyl after this disaster. The alpine trees grew with a reddish tinge around the edges of their leaves. Over the course of the following years, the trees became deformed, and presently they lack the “central stem” and characteristic growth qualities.
Various animals that had been exposed to the lethal levels of radiation seemingly had been reported dead. Mutations in the animal population were also recorded, like the abnormalities reported in barn swallows.
The brains of around 48 species of birds have been found to be smaller than the average size by as much as 5%. These birds around the area of Chernobyl exhibited higher levels of stress (also referred to as radiation-induced oxidative stressing), which further resulted in a decreased cognitive ability.
Traces of radiation after an incident can remain in the environment for a very long period of time. This is owing to the fact that radioactive elements have a longer than average half-life which makes them resistant to complete depletion. This evidence is enough to really make anyone wonder as to how safe is nuclear technology!
5 facts about Fukushima to blow you off your feet
The Fukushima disaster in Japan has caused multiple abnormalities in the plants and animals around the area. Various species of moth and butterflies exhibited deformed wing patterns and other mutations as well.
Among the primates, monkeys exposed to radiation around the Fukushima plant were reported to have lower levels of white blood cells and red blood cells.
The compound melanin, which helps in converting gamma radiation into energy, has been found in some very unlikely places. Melanised fungus is reported to contain this compound which helps to convert gamma radiation into energy.
Humans who were subjected to lethal doses of radiation poisoning are expected to encounter significant medical complications. Some of the more acute impacts included internal bleeding, which is not localized within the body and occurs in multiple places.Death within days of exposure is not uncommon.
Among the most dreadful effects of nuclear disasters on humans, there have been reported instances with Fukushima when persons have been exposed to multiple times the lethal dose of radiation poisoning.This is a very real risk when working within a nuclear power plant in the event of a systemic failure. One man witnessed skin falling from the bodies of those around him, with the internal organs of the acutely affected literally melting away.
Understanding the effects on humans
With such a destructive technology we have witnessed mass eradication. Some of the darker parts of our modern history, such as during the final years of the Second World War, can be seen when the USA retaliated with a nuclear strike on Japan. Thousands of people died within an instant, and this was not the worst part of it, as the survivors had to face a host of illnesses for decades following the bombing of Hiroshima.
The measures to prevent nuclear disaster have been enhanced over the period of time but even with the most cautious of measures, the power of nuclear technology cannot be underestimated at all. When you consider the risks that are present in other parts of the world, such as those around the area of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California, there’s little wonder behind the concerns as to how safe is nuclear technology at the end of the day.
As touched on in a few points earlier, radiation exposure can have a really bad effect on humans as well. In most of the cases, radiation exposure could be lethal, which again brings us to the question as to how safe is nuclear technology?
Here we will take a look at the primary nuclear fallout effects on humans.
Radiation exposure can bring about internal bleeding and several other complications. Generally, the person exposed to radiation sickness would face symptoms like nausea, vomiting, coughing, severe headache, flu-like symptoms and much more.
The symptoms following radiation sickness can become quite aggressive, and all in a matter of days. Seeking medical attention immediately is important.
Some of the worst effects of radiation poisoning tend to be the long-term ones. The survivors of radiation poisoning may have to deal with genetic abnormalities, incapability to reproduce, malformations, and emotional, psychological and mental impacts as well.
Among the potentially fatal situations, people subjected to nuclear fallout also face an extremely high risk of developing cancer at later stages. This further intensifies the debate as to how safe is nuclear technology.
People generally feel the symptoms of radiation sickness within a few days, and it can also start as early as few hours in more extreme cases. Breathing difficulties and muscle spasms are also among the other symptoms of radiation poisoning.
What do we have to do in case of a nuclear disaster?
It is important that we know what to do in a nuclear disaster so that we can reduce our exposure and the subsequent effects of nuclear fallout, and poisoning. The following precautions can help to prevent a potentially fatal outcome.
It is important to be shielded from the nuclear debris. Concrete walls, steel walls, furniture, wooden walls and any kind of barricade can help to protect the human bodies from the nuclear debris. Thicker walls that are impervious to radiation will withstand the energy emissions much more effectively than those of a domestic home, per se.
Underground shelters can provide for the best form of defenses against the fallout materials.
Nuclear debris can travel for hundreds of miles, and therefore it is important to remove all clothing and wash everything (including your body) properly to avoid nuclear contamination. The best idea would be to dispose of the clothing and other materials that may have been contaminated.
If you happen to be outside in this type of situation, then you should seek shelter immediately, or lie flat on the ground with your head covered to avoid the shockwave. It is advised to not look at the blast as it can cause blindness.
We may have harnessed the power of nuclear energy, but still, we are far from realizing the true destructive potential of it. All up, as a civilization, we need to be asking how safe is nuclear technology, if at all?