Despite all technical precautions, radioactive substances can get into a nuclear power plant either directly from the fuel rods or through the action of neutrons on the primary coolant and then into the plant’s wastewater or exhaust air system.
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As a result, the following are closely monitored:
- Radioactive substances are released into the sewer and the exhaust chimney.
- The introduction of radioactive materials into plants, soil, and water.
Water contaminated with radioactive substances is collected, cleaned, and, if possible, reused within the nuclear power plant. The treated wastewater can be discharged into a river inlet (receiving water) if necessary, without endangering people or the environment. During the purification of power plant water, residues (such as evaporator concentrates or ion exchange resins) are solidified and brought into a form suitable for final disposal.
The radioactive substances transported with dust and very fine particles are primarily removed from nuclear power plant exhaust air using mechanical filters (e.g. fiber materials or wet scrubbers) (aerosols). Nuclear fission produces radioactive gases that require special handling. Large activated carbon filters effectively retain them. We use very low limit values, which are based on the fluctuation range of natural radiation exposure, for the radiation exposure of the population caused by the release of radioactive substances into the exhaust air (air path) and wastewater (water path) from nuclear power plants. The actual radiation emitted by nuclear power plants is less than 0.5 percent of the average natural radiation to which we are all constantly exposed.
COMPARISON WITH COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS
Nuclear power plants, unlike coal-fired power plants, emit no chemical pollutants, heavy metal-laden dust, or CO2. They also don’t take in any oxygen.
Nuclear power plants have a thermal efficiency of less than 40% as thermal power plants. The remaining primary energy is released into the environment as waste heat at a low temperature in a controlled manner. Due to the multiple effects on the ecology of the river (receiving waters) from which the cooling water is taken, severe restrictions on inlet temperatures, as well as the removal and return of the cooling water, apply to freshwater cooling. The rate at which heat is introduced into the receiving water is constantly monitored. As a result, cooling towers are now used to re-cool the main cooling water of nuclear power plants.
EFFECTS OF COOLING TOWERS
The cooling tower impacts can:
- Affect the local meteorological conditions.
- Lead to pollution from air pollutants in the environment.
- Cause regional climate changes.
Measurements in the vicinity of the cooling towers installed at power plants in Germany and abroad have shown that power plants with wet cooling towers do not have any significant meteorological effects.