The fuels used in nuclear reactors are usually uranium
and plutonium. The biggest problem with nuclear fission
energy is that the atoms produced, the waste products,
are very radioactive. This makes them very dangerous
to living things and they have to be stored safely
somewhere, in some cases for many thousands of years,
until their radioactivity dies down.
In 1986, there was a major nuclear accident at Chernobyl,
in the Ukraine. A large cloud of radioactive particles
was blown across Europe. Many hundreds of people
who lived near the accident site suffered illness
because of this disaster.
The nuclear power plant in Civaux, France.
After this accident, people's attitude to nuclear
power became rather negative and many countries cut
back on their development of nuclear power. France,
however, still relies on nuclear power stations for
75% of its energy needs.
Nuclear power was once thought to be an answer to the world's energy needs. It was thought to be relatively cheap and safe. Now many nations are not so sure. The UK has not opened any new nuclear power stations since 1994.