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No industrial activity or operation is without its inherent risks. In fact the same goes for all facets of life. Nevertheless certain activities and operations have the potential of great damage not only for the person handling those operations but for society in general. Nuclear technology and nuclear power generation are certainly one of those areas where the potential for damage is literally unlimited if something goes wrong. This has been observed time and again through various accidents which happened in different parts of the world at different times such as that of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Hence safety measures for nuclear power plants must be followed strictly, so that nuclear power becomes an obedient servant and not a terrible master to humanity.
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Nuclear Power Plant Safety
Safety should be ensured in a nuclear power plant from all aspects and during all stages: from the inception of the plant as an idea to its full fledged commissioning providing continuous source of power to the requisite purpose. It would not be possible to go into the full details of the safety aspect in this article, but we will certainly have a look at some of the most basic features relating to nuclear power plant safety.
- The Building: since the nuclear power plant has exothermic nuclear reactions going on inside its core, it is very important that the structure housing this reactor should be made from relevant materials which have the appropriate capacity to shield the outside environment both during normal operations as well as minimize risk of damage in case of unfortunate accidents such as the Chernobyl blast.
- The Core: this is the place where the actual reaction takes place. Fission occurs with the release of neutrons causing further fission thus sustaining a chain reaction. Appropriate measures must be taken to maintain ideal conditions via control rods and core cooling.
- Monitoring: human beings working inside the power plant need to be constantly monitored for any over exposure of radiation as a result of their routine job operations. The standards laid down in this regard should be strictly adhered to and the working environment should be regularly checked for radiation levels.
- Waste Disposal: one of the most challenging tasks is the proper disposal of waste materials from the nuclear power plant. These waste materials come in different forms such as solid, liquid and gaseous. All these types of wastes have their own methods of disposal and the main idea is to dispose off these wastes in a manner which is least harmful for human beings, flora, fauna and the natural environment.
- Proper Emergency Response Plans: nobody wants an accident to happen but things do go out of control sometimes either due to human error or machinery failure. The best thing is to be prepared for such a situation and have properly trained personnel as well as the requisite equipment in order to deal effectively with such situations.
If the above mentioned dictums are followed properly, it would ensure that the tremendous energy which lies in the atom is harnessed in a proper manner without causing damage to men, material, or environment.