Ethics and Technology

The Common Good Perspective:

Fukushima-Nuclear-Plant-Explode-Acid-Rain-japan-quake-sendai.jpgDoes nuclear power serve the common good?

Nuclear power is widely used as an energy source, but can have huge negative impact on the society when things go wrong. Humans use energy to produce electricity. Electricity from nuclear power is an efficient source of energy when and does not produce green house gases unlike its counterparts coal and petroleum. The cost savings for nuclear energy is higher than all other energy sources for consumers. The problem with nuclear power is that spent fuel waste (Plutonium) has a long radioactive life and cannot be safely disposed of. Another concern with nuclear power is the possibility of a core meltdown resulting from a natural disaster which can result in devastating loss and injury of human lives. An example of this threat is the nuclear reactor crisis affecting Fukushima, Japan. Due to the massive devastation inflicted on their power plant and the complete meltdown of their three nuclear reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has decided to release enormous quantities of radioactive water in to the sea. This decision resulted in the contamination of the environment and has raised the question of nuclear power's effects on the greater good (Lynas, 2011).

Environmental Ethics:

Part of the solutions of nuclear waste, the Department of Energy is currentlypreparing

Yucca.jpga license application to construct a permanent central repository at Yucca Mountain. If the license is granted, the repository could begin to accept waste by 2012. Uranium processing produces radioactive wastes that must be adequately stored and isolated to minimize the risk of radioactive release.

The nuclear waste is planned to be shipped to the site by rail and/or truck in robust containers known as spent nuclear fuel shipping casks, approved by the NuclearRegulatory Commission. Although the US has a great record of transporting radioactivematerials without any harmful release of radioactive material, but nothing is perfect and no one knows when something may happen, and it can be disaster if an accident occurs in populated city. According to some surveys, lot cities are still concerned about the transport of radioactive waste on highways and railroads that may pass through heavily populated areas.


Water Discharges Water pollutants, such as heavy metals and salts, build up in the water used in the nuclear power plant systems. These water pollutants, as well as the higher temperature of the water discharged from the power plant, can negatively affectwater quality and aquatic life.

Although the nuclear reactor is radioactive, the water discharged from the powerplant is not considered radioactive because it never comes in contact with radioactive materials. However, waste generated from uranium mining operations and rainwater runoff can contaminate groundwater and surface water resources with heavy metals and traces of radioactive uranium.

Transition Statement: The next page will discuss the relevancy of nuclear power.

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