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The Risks of Meeting Our Growing Demand for Power

A young cancer patient in Donetsk, Ukraine. Radioactive fallout came down on the regions around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the explosion of its fourth reactor in 1986, leading to a rise of radiation-inflicted diseases in the population. (FILE

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe continues to haunt both survivors and their children. Serious health problems plague the children of many who were exposed to radioactivity.

And 25 years later, radioactive material from the disaster still poisons the site.

But Chernobyl is just one of many disasters that have come, in part, from the world's growing demand for energy.

Energy Disasters

In the world's quest for coal, many family members, friends and colleagues have shed tears for those who never came back from what became mine shaft graves.

Engineers strive for safety in all energy production, but even hydro-electricity has its graveyards. Design failure is blamed for catastrophes such as the devastating dam break in China in 1975 that killed tens of thousands of people.

And the search for oil has led to lethal accidents like the 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill off the southern U.S. coast.

Images of dying birds coated in black sludge, deserted tourist beaches and desolate fisherman still linger.

Nothing, it seems, is for free.