Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation is a company that produces energy for the United Arabs Emirates. This paper provides an analysis of how nuclear power production by the plant has resulted in pollution of the environment and health-related issues to the community. The objectives of the study are to identify whether nuclear power production results in more harm than good. The study also aims at identifying health and environmental risks associated with nuclear energy production. The study used both primary and secondary sources of data. Primary data was analyzed by the use of Statistical Package of Social Scientists (SPSS). The study found out that the nuclear energy produces more power as compared to other types of energy production. However, environmental and health risks associated with the production of nuclear energy are higher than other sources of energy. The paper also provides recommendations on how to deal with pollution in nuclear energy industry.
Background and Problem Identification
Many countries use nuclear power as the main source of energy. One hundred and one billion kWh were produced in 2012 in the UAE by use of nuclear energy (Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, n.d). According to ENEC (2015), energy consumption is anticipated to increase by a hundred percent by the year 2020, and it is anticipated that use of nuclear power will produce this energy. Nuclear energy has the record of producing toxic wastes that are harmful to human health and the environment. Nuclear power can produce large amounts of energy although it is very expensive. The cost of constructing a power plant is so high due to radiation equipment and the whole process related to it. Nuclear power stations also incur high overheads in fuel consumption. Production of nuclear energy requires the use of uranium that involves the interruption of the natural environment. Nuclear power production requires substantial investment, infrastructure, and coordination (AlFarra & Abu-Hijleh, 2012).
Nuclear power plants generate electricity by producing steam, which is later used heat. According to Kazim, (2007), in the year 2009, it was estimated that 15 % of global electricity were generated from nuclear energy. More than a hundred and fifty naval vessels have been developed. Nuclear energy production uses fusion and fission methods. Most plants use nuclear fusion since it is considered safer and viable.
Radioactive wastes are produced at all stages of nuclear energy production cycle from the mining of uranium to processing and reprocessing of nuclear fuel. The wastes remain poisonous for many years, and they can cause birth defects or cancer. Waste disposal methods used by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation are not safe. Storage tanks used are expensive, and an alternative method of waste management should be invented (AlFarra & Abu-Hijleh, 2012).
It has been the culture of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to create a safe environment for its employees and the community. Employees in the corporation are encouraged to raise any safety concerns. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation participates in environmental conservation by complying with regulations provided by Abu Dhabi Environmental Agencies and the authority of culture and heritage (Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, n.d). As stated by Kazim, (2007), it is claimed that the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation produces 25 % of total energy consumed in the UAE. Nuclear energy production is preferred to the traditional methods due to reduced carbon emission that is produced when coal or oil is used (Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, n.d).
The main problem with nuclear power is that the risk involved is too high as compared to its benefits. Radiation emissions can be used as a target by terrorists. The radiation reactors can also blow up or leak causing drastic pollution to the surroundings, and could cause global effects. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation uses dual track method of waste management. The process involves developing a long-term storage with reactors for around 20 years to give time for decomposition to take place. However, the company has not managed to control environmental pollution fully. Neighboring residents have been complaining of pollution coming from the nuclear plants. Some nuclear plants are only a few meters away from residential areas. According to the international standards, a nuclear plant should be at least one kilometer from residence. However, some plants are located six meters away from residential houses.
Target Market (Study Population)
The study targets people of between 18 and 60 years of age. The target population is composed of all residents who live near the nuclear energy plants. It also comprises of works of all levels at the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. The study will aim at establishing whether pollution from the plants has affected residents and workers of the industry. It also aims at establishing whether the plant has installed adequate safety measures for its workers and residents.
Research Objective (Research Questions)
I) To investigate the extent of health hazards caused by nuclear energy produced by the Emirate Nuclear Energy Corporation
II) To investigate whether nuclear energy brings more pros or cons to the people in the United Emirates.
III) To investigate the extent of environmental pollution caused by nuclear energy production.
The research was conducted by use of a questionnaire. A questionnaire was designed and then distributed to the respondents through links and emails. The use of emails and links was found to be cheaper and has consumed less time as compared to face-to-face interviews. However, some questionnaires sent through emails were never answered, and others were partially completed. Other surveys were conducted through face-to-face interviews with randomly selected respondents.
The study also relied on secondary data obtained from journals, periodicals, and newspapers magazines and scholarly articles to get a general view of effects of nuclear energy pollution on the environment and associated health hazards.
- Sampling Method
The sample was randomly selected to ensure that there is no bias in the information (Donley, 2012). People living near nuclear energy production firms were identified and requested to complete the survey. The survey was also distributed to people who work for nuclear energy production firms. Participation was voluntary, and respondents were assured of confidentiality of any information they provided.
- Sample Size
The study used a sample size of sixty respondents. The sample consisted of residents and workers around the Emirate Nuclear Energy Corporation. The sample consisted of both male and female respondent. The respondents’ age ranged between 18 and 60 years of age.
- Data Analysis
Data was analyzed using Statistical Package of Social Scientists (SPSS). Data is then analyzed by determining descriptive statistics and frequencies it is then presented in graphs and tables. Regression analysis was also computed to determine correlation coefficients between variables. Data distributed was also determined by use of kurtosis and skewness and calculation of standard deviation.
The study found out that most plants were located just a few meters from residential houses. Most respondents reported that the plants were only six meters way from their homes. It was observed that most people who lived near the plants were workers of the nuclear energy plants, and they had contracted long-term health complications. This was unlike those people who did not live near the firm who had good health and did not report any complications resulting from nuclear energy pollution.
Data analysis shows that there is a high number of people who have contracted cancer due to their association with the plant. Workers in the industries and the surrounding reported having lost their college through cancer caused by accidental release from the industry. There is a high rate of leukemia in children living near the nuclear energy plant. Workers at uranium mines exposed to gamma radiations and radon products are at a high risk of contracting leukemia. Waste from nuclear plants has caused birth defects and miscarriages among women.
The plants produce radioactive gases and liquids into the environment. It has been observed that people living at least 80 km from the plant are at a high risk of receiving radioactive pollution. Nuclear pollution has caused destruction of living organisms that live in both soil and water. According to a report generated from the study, nuclear energy production in the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation produces nuclear radiation. Nuclear radiation can be of three types; gamma, alpha, and beta. These rays can penetrate into the body and objects and thus cause cancer. The intensity of the three types of rays is different. Alpha rays are considered not so dangerous and can be prevented by use of a piece of paper. Beta rays are denser than alpha and can be prevented by the use of aluminum that is at least six millimeters in width. Use of led can be used for protection against gamma rays.
Emirates Nuclear Energy plants produces tritium that is a hydrogen isotope. The tritium is contained in waste water from the nuclear plant. The water containing tritium is then released into drinking water causing harm to animals, plants, and humans. The mining of uranium causes destruction of the natural environment since uranium ore has to be obtained deep from the ground. However, the destruction causes less damage to the environment as compared to coal mining. Abandoned mines can be the cause of radioactive contamination for as long as two hundred and fifty thousand years after their usage, causing health and ecological risk to the society.
Nuclear energy production requires a lot of water than other renewable sources of energy. Therefore, nuclear energy plants are built near water bodies. Some of the microscopic plants and animals are dragged through water into intake system. The organisms are too small to pass through the screens of the processing system, and they get killed in the process. Millions of aquatic animal such as seals, fish, and turtles are sucked into the system and killed.
The study was limited by lack of enough reliable data to support the objectives. Readings available on nuclear energy production in the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation were limited. There were also only a few scholarly materials on the same subject. The sample size also restricted the study. The study mainly concentrated on analyzing data obtained from analysis of information obtained from the respondent. Some of the information obtained was vague and could not give a clear direction. There was also a limitation of access to organizational documents due to protection of confidentiality by the company. Further research on the subject should be conducted to expand the body of knowledge on this subject.
It has been observed that nuclear energy production method produces or energy that renewable sources of energy. It is also observed that nuclear energy production is cheaper than usage of coal in producing power. However, environmental pollution and health risk associated with the use of nuclear energy in power production are intense. Wastes from nuclear production can cause pollution and damage over a long period. If wastes are not taken care of very well, they can cause more harm than good resulting from nuclear energy.
As the results of the research showed, the waste materials emitted by the company as a result of the energy production process are harmful to the people. Most people living around the company plants and the workers in these production plants are seriously affected by the emissions. It is the responsibility of the company to be socially responsible to the community or the society that surrounds its operations. Being socially responsible involves putting good and implementable measures to affect these communities positively. The carbon emitted by the production company stays up to twenty years in circulation before it totally decomposes. Such a long duration of time is considered that the company continues with the production and it will affect the people, and the company may be sued. It is, therefore, better for the company to set aside in its budget every year to have resettlement schemes of the residents living around the production plants. These people should be settled in a place where the emissions will not reach them (Blanchard, & Kerr, 2009).
According to world health organization (WHO), people should be at least one kilometer away from the production plants. Therefore, it will be an honorable thing for the company to resettle the residents and the workers who live around the production plant.
As compared to other businesses and other exports in the United Arab Emirates, nuclear energy is such a big export and has a lot of advantages as compared to disadvantages. The industry has created a lot of employment to the citizens of the continent since it is a labor intensive industry. The industry also contributes much to the overall gross domestic product of the country. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation should, therefore, partner with the government to get a permanent solution on the effects of Uranium, Titanium, and other harmful emissions from the production. In order to control the effects, it is a good recommendation for the company to work with the government in providing better sewerage and disposal systems. With its connections, large capital base, link with the health and environmental bodies in the world, the government will help solve the problem easily. The company will, on the other hand, benefit from the government connections and have ready and better market for its final goods (Alnaser & Alnaser, 2011).
The research shows that the production plants and their emissions affect the stakeholders largely. The employees of the company, society surrounding the firm, the people around the mining areas, plants, animals and much more are highly affected. The potholes and dams left after the miners dig the titanium, and the uranium minerals are health hazards to animals and the people living around those areas. It is a recommendation that the company fills these holes up with debris instead of leaving them open. Some of the waste emitted from the production plant may be transported to these areas and help fill up the open left holes. As it is for the environmental slogan, ‘plant a tree in any hole’, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation can plant trees on these holes