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Ethical Issues In Nuclear Engineering

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Engineering has one main goal, to assist and benefit humanity through its specialized and creative works. Throughout history, many ethical issues have risen in the field of engineering. Some of these issues led to infamous incidents that resulted in the death of many. Though engineers have the capacity and knowledge to create new technology and use it to promote the health and welfare of the population, the result of it may not be sufficient to justify its use. A current moral controversy emerging from this thinking is related to the use of concepts found in nuclear engineering to build thorium reactors. Despite the fact that the goal of these reactors is to supersede fossil fuel energy, moral concerns emerge about whether or not this is the…show more content…
Such arguments can be endorsed by act utilitarianism, an ethical theory that studies the consequences of actions taken to justify their morality. Utilitarians believe that actions that lead to the best consequences for the greatest number of people is deemed as moral. Such theory can be applied to engineering and the technology behind thorium reactors. Those in support of this technology believe and argue that this is the most optimal path to take when compared to other energy sources, along with the benefits that thorium fueled reactors can bring to humanity. Big proponents of nuclear energy support their arguments with the introduction of Molten Salt Reactors. These types of reactors have been previously tested at Oak Rid National Laboratory in the 1960s and were proved to be successful and inherently safe. Molten Salt Reactors are unique, in that, they do not meltdown (fuel is already melted) and operate at atmospheric pressure, hence it makes them inherently safe. Thorium can be used as a fuel in these reactors to produce electrical energy, heat and other valuable products. The result leads to a community in the future that is self-sustained and energy independent. In addition, it would create a…show more content…
In addition, thorium is chemically more stable and more proliferation resistant than uranium. The benefits itself do not directly impact the utilitarian view, but the effects from these benefits do. Such effects are a safer outcome in the event a nuclear meltdown occurs, because thorium releases less radioactivity to the atmosphere. These results provide a greater net positive consequences for utilitarians because it positively affects people in the event that an accident were to occur; thorium fueled reactors can contain the radiation much easier than uranium fueled
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