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Title: Fission and Fusion Nuclear Reactors : A Study of the Environmental and Social Effects of a Technology.
Author: Day, R.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3419 4331
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1977
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The following thesis is a comparative study of nuclear reactors using fission and fusion technology, with special regard to social effects and possible environmental problems. It examines the scientific and technical background to the production of nuclear power; the possible environmental and safety hazards; licensing and siting policy and procedures; some economic, political and social aspects and issues; and procedures and regulations adopted for the control of the technology. Part 1 presents an explanation of the processes involved in nuclear power production, an historical account of the development of the different reactor types, and a technical description of these, with emphasis on those details and characteristics which affect the environmental and social impact of the technology. This is regarded as essential to the aim of the study in achieving an understanding and appreciation of the extent and nature of the environmental and social effects. Part 2 examines the environmental effects and the safety of nuclear plants. Appraisals of techniques for the control and management of radioactive wastes, are combined with reviews of present knowledge of the behaviour of radionuclides and the effects of radiation. These indicate that the possible environmental effects of nuclear reactors can only be estimated with great uncertainty, but that these effects will be significant and do warrant concern for the future. An evaluation of the methods used for assessing the risks and consequences of reactor accidents, the results and conclusions of some of these assessments, and analysis of some incidents and accidents in nuclear plants, are used to show that, far from being failsafe, nuclear plants will be vulnerable to fault conditions which could lead to very serious accidents. A consideration of licensing and siting practice leads to the conclusion that a numerical approach is a fundamental requirement for assessing the safety of sites, and that with such an approach it is unlikely that licences would be granted for urban areas. Part 3 considers economic, political and social implications of nuclear power. Examination of capital, operating and overall generating costs of nuclear plant, coupled with consideration of costs incurred in the nuclear fuel cycle which do not show up in cost figures, are used to give an appraisal of the total economic cost. Analysis of the reasons for the proliferation of peaceful nuclear energy, of the likely extent and nature of this proliferation, and of the nature and limitations of safeguards against the diversion of nuclear materials, indicates that the proliferation of peaceful nuclear energy is likely to lead to further proliferation of nuclear weapons. The measures required to safeguard nuclear materials against theft and nuclear installations against sabotage are examined.' This leads to the conclusion that means for the improvement of security will be necessary which will infringe upon civil liberties. On the basis of an examination of the extent and nature of public opposition to nuclear power, it is argued that methods are needed for increasing public understanding of the issues and for promoting public participation in the decision-making process. The conclusion of this study is that the promotion and development of nuclear technology ought only to proceed with great caution and without haste. Inherent safety, as opposed to engineered safety, should be the factor above all others which is influential in the choice of a nuclear reactor type; the debate on the nuclear issue ought to be an open one and the opportunity and means should be provided for a public appraisal of long-term nuclear strategy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available