Prometheus Bound

According to Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, forever changing the world by providing mankind a tool to master the elements.

Today we are forced to turn our power-hungry attention to alternatives in an attempt to attain a sustainable energy source, only to find that our choices might create further complications of insufferable consequence. In a world starving for energy, more and more countries are turning to nuclear power to answer their energy needs.

Horrifying nuclear disasters like the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, the Chernobyl explosion in the Ukraine and the Three Mile Island radiation release in the U.S. mark the hazardous risks that nuclear reactors pose, to say nothing of the radioactive waste that seeps into our rivers and lakes from this “genie out of the bottle”.

Although the risks inherent in nuclear power plants is minimized, people are unaware of the staggering amount of nuclear reactors and radiation zones that are located around the globe, each capable of widespread contamination of our air and water.

Throughout the world, 450 nuclear power plants with an installed electrical output of about 392 GW (gigawatts – a unit of electric power equal to one billion watts) are in operation in 31 countries as of November 28, 2016. Sixty nuclear plants in 16 countries are under construction with a capacity of 60 GW.

“Meltdowns like the ones in Fukushima or Chernobyl released enormous amounts of radiation into the surrounding communities, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate,” according to Greenpeace. If the track record continues, at least one meltdown per decade is expected.

Radioactive waste is also a serious issue. Uranium mill tailings, spent (used) reactor fuel, and other radioactive wastes can remain radioactive and dangerous to human health for thousands of years. After 70 years of research, no safe, completely reliable solution for dealing with radioactive waste exists.

However, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration, “by volume, most of the waste related to the nuclear power industry has a relatively low level of radioactivity.”

The public must remember that governments don’t always tell the truth about information that might alarm their populations. According to Reuters News, dozens of groups are crowd-funding the study of ocean radiation after the federal government opted not to track the spread of cesium 134 from Fukushima toward the United States.

Can we continue like this? How long will it be before the sheer amount of nuclear zones will cause some real harm to us and the world around us?

            “The splitting of the atom changed everything, save man’s mode of thinking. Thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.” Albert Einstein


There is still no safe, reliable solution for dealing with the radioactive waste produced by nuclear plants. Every waste dump in the U.S. leaks radiation into the environment, and nuclear plants themselves are running out of ways to store highly radioactive waste on site. The site selected to store the U.S.’s radioactive waste — Yucca Mountain in Nevada — is both volcanically and seismically active.

An uncontrolled nuclear reaction in a nuclear reactor could result in widespread contamination of air and water. The risk of this happening at nuclear power plants in the United States is considerably small because of the diverse and redundant barriers and numerous safety systems in place at nuclear power plants; the training and skills of the reactor operators; testing and maintenance activities; and the regulatory requirements and oversight of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A large area surrounding nuclear power plants is restricted and guarded by armed security teams. U.S. reactors also have containment vessels that are designed to withstand extreme weather events and earthquakes.