Energy is essential in ensuring that modern civilization is sustained. Large quantities of energy are needed by modern technologies and in the process increase the energy demand. Traditional sources of energy such as fossils and hydroelectric energy are not in a position to satisfy the ever-increasing global energy demands. Nuclear energy has been one of the solutions to the global energy crisis but unfortunately, this form of energy has some major risks associated with it. Despite being feasible and cost-effective, nuclear generation plants are a source of radioactive materials that can be very disastrous to the environment and human beings if not well contained. This paper will report on the mechanical and engineering failures that sparked a nuclear meltdown in the Three Mile power plant, the effects of a nuclear accident and finally look at how to improve safety in nuclear power plants to prevent accidents.
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Nuclear plants are supposed to produce nuclear energy in large quantities and the process prevents the occurrence of any form of nuclear disaster. Since nuclear disasters need to be avoided as much as possible, it is therefore very important for nuclear energy generation plants to put much emphasis on multiple prevention methods. Some of the recommended multiple prevention methods include the installation of fail-safe locks in the reactor, the use of concrete and lead in constructing the plants, putting evacuation protocols in place and not forgetting the plant area lockdown. All nuclear reactors should have multiple ways of cooling down reactors in case a cooling system fails. One of the major sources of nuclear disasters is when the water in the plant turns into steam. This kind of threat is normally controlled by pressurizing the primary system.
The pilot-operated relief valve is normally used to release excess pressure from the primary system and in the process prevent water from turning into steam. The emergency core coolant system is very useful in emergency cases when there is insufficient coolant in the primary system. The other potential source of a nuclear disaster is when a piping system of the nuclear plant fails and this can be very fatal. This kind of failure occurred at Three Mile Island in the year 1979. The mechanical failure occurred in the piping system of the plant consequently causing the turbines to shut down because the pumping system had ceased to operate. The nuclear reaction was stopped because the rate of nuclear fusion could not be regulated by the system’s control rods.
Accidents at a nuclear plant can also be prevented using civil engineering processes. Civil engineers employ the use of isolation technology to protect the building from being destroyed and at the same time prevent internal instruments and equipment from being damaged. The isolation technology is a precaution of protecting the nuclear plant from the effects of natural forces like earthquakes. The earthquake energy can not be transferred to the building in the event preventing the occurrence of a nuclear disaster. In case a nuclear disaster occurs in the plant, the plant remains stable to a certain degree while the reactor remains safe from outside events due to the isolation technology. The use of thick concrete walls in constructing the reactor and power plants ensures that the plant does not leak any radiation to the environment. The walls are normally one to two meters thick.