Effects of Nuclear Power Generation Plants in Ontario
Effectsof Nuclear Power Generation Plants in Ontario
Effectsof Nuclear Power Generation Plants in Ontario
Nuclearpower has gained popularity as a preferred source of energy in theworld due to its ability to reduce harmful emissions into theatmosphere. According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), byFebruary 2017, there are 31 countries with nuclear power generators,including Taiwan. There are approximately 440 reactions units thatare in operation in these countries. The total capacity of the 31countries is estimated to exceed 385GWe.1In 2014, there was an addition of approximately 2411 billion kWh fromthe construction of over 60 nuclear plants. The world’s electricityproduction from nuclear power is estimated to be 11 percent.2Canada has been on the frontline of nuclear power technology. Thecountry operates about 19 nuclear reactors in Ontario with a totalcapacity of 13.5GWe. It is estimated that about 16 percent ofCanada’s electricity is obtained from the nuclear reactors.3The generation of nuclear power in Ontario takes place in two powerstations namely Darlington and Pickering.
Nuclearpower generation is associated with a range of benefits. The twomajor benefits of this source of energy are low operating costs, andit does not produce emissions to the atmosphere, thus prevents globalwarming. Therefore, there is a lower cost of generating electricitythrough nuclear power. This is ideal given the fact that nuclearenergy is not very common. Therefore, its price is less susceptibleto the global economic situation, and consequently, its productioncost remains unaffected.
Furthermore,the fact that nuclear power production does not produce emissionsmeans that it does not cause global warming like other energy sourcessuch as fossil fuels. The nuclear power plants do not affect thecleanliness of the environment, which is good for the ecosystem.Another benefit associated with nuclear power is its ability tocreate new employment opportunities that help previously unemployedpeople to make a living. For instance, in Ontario, many people havesecured jobs as engineers, which have helped them support theirfamilies and improve their living standards.
Nevertheless,the development of nuclear power plants in Ontario comes at one majorcost. This entails the pollution of water in Lake Ontario, which hasaffected its marine life tremendously. The water quality hasdecreased, and the algae and phytoplankton that fish and otheranimals feed on have diminished leaving the animals without a sourceof food. Despite this de-merit, nuclear power production in Ontariohas more advantages, thus making it necessary.
Differentregions are seeking to balance the benefits of producing nuclearenergy with the production of other forms of energy. An independentanalysis for Ontario revealed that nuclear power is its best option.This is because it provides reliable and affordable electricity whilesupporting other aspects of the economy such as employment, growth,and development. Critics of nuclear power argue that the cost of itsgeneration is high, but that is not the case. Although the initialcapital outlay is substantial due to the infrastructure that isneeded, expenditures incurred in running the projects are spreadthroughout its operation.
Nuclearpower generation ranks as an efficient and economical way ofgenerating power. When compared with other sources of energy, itsefficiency is clear in terms of the amount of energy and resourcesthat go into its production and the output generated. For instance,thermal power generation requires coal as an input. If coal is usedto the tune of 7,000 – 8,000 tons per day, then a year wouldrequire over 200 million tons of coal. On the contrary, a typicalnuclear power plant can run on 1.5 tons of uranium to facilitate thefission reactions per year when operating at full power.4Moreover, coal is a non-renewable source of energy. The predicteddepletion oil could make coal a key chemical fuel, which can be anenormous waste, given that the global prices of coal have been onrising. The costs of operation are low, which translates tohigh-energy efficiency. Therefore, it can be argued that nuclearenergy is the most economical and efficient way of generating power.The cost of transporting fuel to the power plant is low, and inaddition to the fuel in the reactor, the combustion processes produceextra nuclear fuel.
Theproposal to develop nuclear power production in Ontario can minimizegreenhouse gas emissions that come from the usage of other sources ofenergy. Most of the contemporary environmental pollution problemsresult from the usage of fossil fuels. The combustion of fossil fuelsproduces enormous volumes of nitrogen oxides, dust, Sulphur dioxideand carbon dioxide, which cause acid rain and global warming.Consequently, this affects human beings, animals, and theenvironment. Nuclear power generation does not cause this kind ofpollution because it does not entail the combustion of fossil fuels.The International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that the capacityof nuclear power generation needs to be doubled by 2050 for the worldto attain its global warming goal of 2oC.5Through nuclear power generation, Canada avoids approximately 90million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This is equivalentto eliminating 80 percent of cars from Canadian roads. Therefore,when it comes to the idea of climate change, nuclear power comparesfavorably against other renewable sources of energy.
Thenuclear power plants in Ontario have been the major source ofelectricity in the province. The plants have offered reliable andsafe power 24/7 for more than 50 years. Nuclear power has been ableto meet over 50% of the electricity needs in Ontario, which is a goodindicator of its reliability. The nuclear industry in Ontario hasenough capacity to support more than 160 supply chain organizations,60,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities and millions inR&D at the colleges and universities in the province.6Ontario Power Generation (OPG) owns and runs Darlington and Pickeringnuclear plants, which have a production capacity of about 6,600megawatts. OPG ensures there are no safety issues that arise from itsconcerns. To achieve this, the organization has designed its nuclearstations with multiple safety systems that are continuously monitoredby highly trained personnel. Nuclear energy has served the energyneeds of Canada for more than forty years during which no person hasbeen hurt by the nuclear waste or radiation from the plants. There iscontinuous monitoring of the radiation levels within the perimetersof the nuclear plants to ensure that the public is safe.
Theoperations of the nuclear power plants must affect the livingenvironment of Lake Ontario. The nuclear plants use water from thelake for cooling and special treatment purposes. Most of this wateris pumped back to the lake, which lowers its quality. The coolingwater passes through a barrier of sieves to filter any objects, andit undergoes screening to remove any solids and living organisms. Thewater is pumped at high speeds and the impact at the filters cancause death to living organisms present. This deprives the lake ofits biodiversity, which is a huge destruction of the ecosystem.Similarly, any eggs in the water that could hatch to sustain thespecies life in the future are even more susceptible to destruction.
Allnuclear power plants in operation require a large volume of water forthe cooling process. Most of the water pumped in enters thecondensate, which contains for about three-quarters of the total heatgenerated from the nuclear reaction. According to statistics in thisfield, the power generation capacity of a typical nuclear powergenerating plant is estimated to be between 2,000,000 kW and4,000,000 kW. Taking the two million kW capacity nuclear powergenerating plant, the daily waste in the form of heat isapproximately 1010kJ, which can heat up eleven million cubic metersof water to 5.5oC.7In Ontario, water for the cooling process is directly drawn from thelake to take the cooling cycle in the condenser after which it ispumped back to the lake.
Undernormal circumstances, the temperature of the lake water should notexceed 20oC. However, the continuous discharge of heat waste throughwater that has been used in the cooling processes adds a temperatureof approximately 5.5oC into the lake causing thermal pollution.Therefore, it is undoubted that nuclear power plant cooling processescontribute to thermal pollution in the nearest water bodies such asLake Ontario. From a biological perspective, the temperature of waterin such a water body plays a key role in the lake ecosystems insupporting the various types of living organisms. It has a hugeimpact on the growth and development of freshwater species, theirmetabolism, cell maturity and their overall lifecycles.
Thethermal effect of water discharged from the cooling processes altersthe natural temperature of the lake water. The phytoplankton is themost affected by the change in water temperature. These organismsprovide food for fish and other animals in the lake. In the long-termthermal pollution leads to the growth of microscopic cyanobacteria,blue-green algae caused by a phenomenon called harmful algal blooms(HAB).8This alga has previously been found in Lake Ontario through testsconducted by scientists from the international space station.
Onthe same note, high-temperature water from the nuclear power plantshas a direct impact on the zooplankton in the lake by affecting theirdistribution and living habits. Scientists consider water temperatureas the most significant environmental factor in the lives of fish andother aquatic organisms. Therefore, the state in Lake Ontario cannotbe ignored because it affects a range of biological processes for thefish. The change in temperature affects fish reproduction, thedevelopment of their embryos and the survival of young fish.Furthermore, high water temperature can accelerate the development ofgonads in aquatic animals, induce early ovulation and increase theproportion of deformed animals in the water.9Consequently, this can translate to early maturity, early aging,inability to reproduce and small physical sizes among others.
Nuclearpower generation in Ontario takes place in two plants namelyDarlington and Pickering. These two nuclear power generating powerplants have a combined capacity of approximately 6,600 megawatts.Nuclear power is an ideal source of energy given that it isassociated with a low production cost that has significantly reducedthe cost of providing electricity in Ontario. This is extremelyefficient because the resources that could go into the production ofpower can be used in other areas that are in need of development.Another reason why nuclear power generation in Canada is good is thatit does not produce emissions to the atmosphere. This implies that itensures environmental cleanliness and does not cause global warming,which is a threat to the world’s ecosystems. Moreover, nuclearpower production in Ontario has created both direct and indirectemployment opportunities to people such that they can make a livingto support their families and improve their standards of living.Nevertheless, the nuclear power plants have affected the surroundingin a range of ways, particularly the ecological environment of LakeOntario. This has caused thermal pollution, which has raised thenormal temperature of water in the lake affecting the aquatic animalstherein. This has affected the biological processes of these animals,and their lives generally, leading to undesirable outcomes such asstunted growth, inability to reproduce and early maturity amongothers. Despite the negative outcomes associated with the existingnuclear power plants in Ontario, this analysis concludes that thebenefits outweigh the demerits. Therefore, constructing anothernuclear power plant would be good for the region and the country atlarge.
CanadaNuclear Association. EconomicBenefits.(2015). Retrieved fromhttps://cna.ca/issues-policy/economics/economic-benefits/
LakeOntario Water keeper. “Case – Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment.”(2016). Last modified April.http://www.waterkeeper.ca/case-darlington-nuclear-refurbishment/
Mackinnon,Don. NuclearPower Offers Ontario the Most Benefits.(2015). Retrieved fromhttp://www.pwu.ca/news/opinion-editorials/post/nuclear-power#.WNteRrglHhk
Mo,Lee., and Zeping Cai. “Effects of nuclear power plants on oceanenvironment and organisms.” MarineScience(2012). 25: 33-36.
OntarioPower Generation. “Nuclear Waste Management-Types of Waste.”(2016)http://www.opg.com/generating-power/nuclear/nuclear-waste-management/Pages/types-of-waste.aspx
WorldNuclear Association. “Nuclear Power in Canada.” (2016). Lastmodified November.http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/canada-nuclear-power.aspx
1 World Nuclear Association. “Nuclear Power in Canada.” (2016).
2 World Nuclear Association. “Nuclear Power in Canada.” (2016).
3 Canada Nuclear Association. Economic Benefits. (2015).
4 Mackinnon, Don. Nuclear Power Offers Ontario the Most Benefits. (2015)
5 Mackinnon, Don. Nuclear Power Offers Ontario the Most Benefits. (2015)
6 Mackinnon, Don. Nuclear Power Offers Ontario the Most Benefits. (2015)
7 Ontario Power Generation. “Nuclear Waste Management-Types of Waste
8 Mo, Lee., and Zeping Cai. “Effects of nuclear power plants on ocean environment and organisms.”
9. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. “Case – Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment
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