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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Nuclear Power

  • Q: How many nuclear power plants are operational in the world?

    A: As of March 2022, the total number of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in operation globally are 440, out of which 302 NPPs are based on PWR (Pressurized Water Reactor) technology. The highest number of nuclear power plants in operation are 93 in the United State of America (Reference: IAEA).

    Q: How many nuclear power plants are under construction in the world?

    A: As of 1st March 2021, fifty (50) nuclear power plants are under construction, out of which the highest number is twelve (12) in People’s Republic of China (Reference: IAEA)

    Q: What are the sources of radiation?

    A: Most of the radiation comes from natural sources. This is called background radiation. The rocks, water, sun, and objects in space emit radiation. The ground we walk on, the buildings we live in, and nearly everything we touch contains some radioactive matter. The food we eat and the air we breathe give off radiation. Even our bodies contain radioactive substances.
    Some radiation also comes from man-made sources. Man-made radiation comes from equipment using radioactive sources such as those in the medical and industrial sectors. It also emanates from daily-use items such as mantles in camping lanterns, some kinds of smoke detectors, and wood stoves. Some radiation comes from nuclear and even coal-fired plants that generate electricity.
    A nuclear power plant adds very little to the total man-made radiation we receive.

    Q: How can nuclear energy be compared to other power sources?

    A: A single uranium fuel pellet the size of a pencil eraser contains the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil. (Reference: www.nei.org)

    Q: How many greenhouse gases are produced through nuclear energy?

    A: There are no emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide during the production of electricity at nuclear energy facilities. Nuclear energy is a very clean-air source of energy that produces electricity 24 hours a day, every day.

    Q: Can nuclear energy be stated as a renewable energy source?

    A: A renewable energy source uses an essentially limitless supply of fuel, whether wind, the sun or water. Nuclear energy is not a renewable energy source but it is a sustainable energy source, because there is enough uranium in the world to fuel reactors for 100 years or more.

    Q: Are nuclear facilities safe for workers?

    A: As part of the industry’s commitment to a safe workplace, employees are continuously monitored for radiation exposure, for which strict limits are enforced by the independent nuclear regulatory authority, in Pakistan.

    Q: What kinds of personnel are employed at nuclear energy facilities?

    A: Highly trained and licensed employees operate reactors and are supported by engineers and scientists having diverse engineering and scientific background as well as health physicists, instrumentation and control workers and other professionals. Skilled craftspeople such as welders and mechanics are an integral part of nuclear power plant team.

    Q: What are the ways in which nuclear energy facilities contribute for the surrounding residents?

    A: Nuclear power plants often are located in rural areas that receive considerable benefits from a large industrial complex. Utilities and government departments that operate nuclear energy facilities are involved in the economic uplift of nearby towns and communities, offering better quality colleges, hospitals, markets and much more. As the plants operate over several decades, their presence encourages continuity in their communities by offering employment to over more than one generation of families and workers.

    Q: Can an explosion in a nuclear power plant occur similar to an atomic bomb?

    A: A nuclear explosion is impossible in a nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant does not contain the type of fuel which is needed to make atomic bombs. Furthermore, the fission reaction in a nuclear power plant is controlled.

    Q: What kind of protection is present in a nuclear power plant?

    A: A nuclear power plant has a series of barriers to keep radiation inside the plant. First of all, the nuclear fuel is in pellet form. Then the pellets are put into long metal tubes. These metal tubes are bundled together. The bundled metal tubes are placed in water inside the reactor vessel, which is eight inches thick steel and is further lined with stainless steel. The reactor vessel is inside the containment building. The advanced nuclear power plants have a double containment. They have two steel-and-concrete domes with airspace in between. The containment can withstand the crash of a fighter bomber jet. They can also withstand an earthquake right under the building or other natural disasters.