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While there
are plenty of benefits to using nuclear power, there are numerous disadvantages
that also come with its use. There have been nuclear incidents throughout
history that have caused many questions to be raised about how safe nuclear
energy really is. One of the most notable accidents is the one that happened at
the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine. An explosion at the plant destroyed the
reactor core which in released radioactive material into the atmosphere. This
accident has been considered the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into
the environment ever. This hasn’t been the only incident in history that has
turned head though. There was an earthquake in Japan that caused the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear plant’s core to experience a meltdown. Because of the 9.0
magnitude earthquake, a tsunami caused water to seep into the plant generators
which lead to temperatures and reaction rates being uncontrollable and ultimate
the release of tons of radioactive waste into the environment. Three Mile
Island, a nuclear power plant located in Pennsylvania, is considered the most
significant accident that has happened on American soil when it comes to
dealing with nuclear energy. Numerous mechanical and human errors lead to a
chain of events that no one could have seen coming that resulted in a partial
meltdown of a nuclear reactor. It’s because of this accident that no new
nuclear power plants have been constructed in the United States.  The impact that the Three Mile Island accident
had was colossal. Support for nuclear energy fell, an estimated two million
people were exposed, and nuclear plant regulations were changed. Changes to the
construction of nuclear plants and how long they would take to be built, along
with the cost led to a very steep decline in the amount of nuclear reactors
being built. The cleanup after this tragic incident took about fourteen years
and the cost of the cleanup was estimated at a billion dollars. These are just
a few of the many incidents that have shed light onto some of the negatives to producing
nuclear power.

There have
been a couple of different ideas put forth by numerous researchers and
scientists about how the problem of nuclear waste should be dealt with. Ideas
that some of the researchers have had have ranged from burying the waste under
the seabed in the ocean to blasting it into space to depositing the waste under
a mountain in a geological repository. There have been and will be many ideas
thrown out about how this problem should be handled and hopefully one of them
is the key to solving the growing nuclear waste problem not only in the United
States, but also around the world. Seabed disposal is one of the methods that
researchers believed to be a solution to the nuclear waste problem. A program
was started in 1974 that was to conduct research on if this method would work
or not. In just a couple years after the program was started more than ten
countries became involved in the research. They determined that the heavy mud
and clay at the oceans floor was ideal for the storage of nuclear waste. It was
also found that any leakage from the containers would be successfully contained
underneath the mud and clay for millions of years the further it was buried. Estimated
costs to get the program going that would evaluate seabed disposal as a
possible solution to the nuclear waste problem was estimated to only be around
250 million dollars, which compared to the billions of dollars that have
already been spent on the site evaluation at Yucca Mountain, which is pretty
feasible. Problems started to arise when researchers were trying to determine
how the nuclear waste would be deposited in the seabed and exactly how deep
they should be buried. At the end of the day this idea was rejected. A lot of
this had to do with the Nuclear Waste Policy of 1982 that required the
Department of Energy to construct a land based repository, instantly dismissed
the idea of seabed disposal. Funding for this research was officially cut off
in 1986 and the focus was shifted to developing a land based repository.

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Finding a
permanent solution to the disposal of high level nuclear waste had been one of
the most controversial topics in the United States. As the amount of waste
continues to increase, the issue only becomes more and more pressing and more
politicized. It can be seen in the permanent site selection process that has
been going on for years now. Waste disposal isn’t a new problem that has just
popped up out of nowhere. From as early as the 1950s, people knew that
something had to be done about the disposal of this waste. It was even
recommended by the National Academy of Sciences back then that radioactive
waste be stored deep underground in order to protect both people and the
environment, but it wasn’t until 1982 when the government put a plan into place
to begin the process of finding a permanent site in the United States where waste
could be stored. This act came to be known as the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of
1982.

            Disposing of nuclear waste in space
seemed like it could be a feasible solution to permanently dispose of the waste.
This idea of sending waste into space was first investigated by NASA in 1973.
The results from this investigation supported the idea that disposal into space
could be a potential solution. Research determined that the risks that came
will this method of disposal stemmed mostly from transportation and how exactly
nuclear waste could be safely jettisoned into space.

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