Nuclear Energy By Oriel Wilson Race Poverty and the Urban Environment Professor Raquel R. Pinderhughes Urban Studies Program San Francisco State University Spring 2003*Public has permission to use the material herein, but only if author, course,university and professor are credited.
ObjectiveThis presentation focuses on the entirenuclear fuel cycle. It is designed to explainthe negative effects caused by the use ofand production of nuclear energy. It takesyou through the cradle to grave lifecycle ofnuclear energy, paying particular attentionto the social, environmental, and publichealth impacts of the processes associatedwith nuclear energy.
OverviewWe will start with a brief introduction,then extraction and processing of uranium. We then discuss the distribution ofuranium to enrichment facilities, and theenrichment process. This is followed by amore detailed explanation of nuclear usesfor weapons and electricity production.Following each will be a discussion ofdistribution and consumption. Finally, wewill end with an analysis of nuclear waste.
Brief HistoryNuclear energy was first discovered in 1934 byEnrico Fermi. The first nuclear bombs were builtin 1945 as a result of the infamous ManhattanProject. The first plutonium bomb, code-namedTrinity, was detonated on July 16, 1945 in NewMexico. On August 6th 1945 the first uraniumbomb was detonated over Hiroshima. Threedays later a plutonium bomb was dropped onNagasaki. There is over 200,000 deathsassociated with these detonations. Electricitywasn’t produced with nuclear energy until 1951. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
RadiationRadiation is the result of an unstable atomdecaying to reach a stable state. Half-life is theaverage amount of time it takes for a sample of aparticular element to decay half way. Naturalradiation is everywhere—our bodies, rocks,water, sunshine. However, manmade radiationis much stronger. There are currently 37radioactive elements in the periodic table—26 ofthem are manmade and include plutonium andamericium (used in household smoke detectors). Source: http://theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/index.html
Types of RadiationThere are several different kinds of radiation: alpharadiation, beta radiation, gamma rays, and neutronemission. Alpha radiation is the release of two protonsand two neutrons, and normally occurs in fission ofheavier elements. Alpha particles are heavy and cannotpenetrate human skin, but are hazardous if ingested. Betaradiation is when a neutron is changed to a proton orvisa versa, beta radiation is what is released from thischange. Beta particles can penetrate the skin, but notlight metals. Gamma rays is a type of electromagneticradiation which is left over after alpha and beta arereleased and include X-rays, light, radio waves, andmicrowaves. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Penetration of Radioactive particles Source: http://www.ratical.org/radiation/NRBE/NRBE3.html
DosageRadiation is sometimes called ionizing radiation because ions arecreated with the passage of the alpha, beta, and gamma rays. The effectof radiation is on a cellular level—changing its functionality (causingcancer or inherited birth defects) or killing it. Depending on theinformation source, radiation doses are measured in rems or sievert, inany case 100 rem = one sievert. An exposure of 100 Sv will causedeath within days, 10-50 Sv will cause death from gastrointestinal failurein one to two weeks, and with an exposure of 3-5 Sv will cause redbone marrow damage half of the time. Severe affects consist of burns,vomiting, hemorrhage, blood changes, hair loss, increased susceptibilityto infection, and death. With lower levels of exposure symptoms arecancer (namely thyroid, leukemia, breast, and skin cancers), but alsoinclude eye cataracts. The radiation can also affect DNA causingmutations that change individuals’ genes and can be passed on to futuregenerations. The current occupational dose recommended by theInternational Commission for Radiological Protection is 50 mSv peryear. The average radiation dose per year for non-nuclear workers isabout one mSv. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May and Energy and the Environment by James A. Fay and Dan S. Golomb.
UraniumUranium is usually mined similarly to other heavymetals—under ground or in open pits—but othermethods can also be used. After the uranium ismined it is milled near the excavation site usingleaching processes. The mining process explainedhere is a combination of two of major mines inAustralia. Then we will look at the Navajouranium miners who were some of the firsturanium miners. Next I will explain some of theother community and environmental impactsassociated with the mining processes.
Mining Uranium ore is usually located aerially; core samples are then drilled and analyzed by geologists. The uraniumore is extracted by means of drilling and blasting.Mines can be in either open pits or underground.Uranium concentrations are a small percentage ofthe rock that is mined, so tons of tailings wasteare generated by the mining process.Sources: http://www.anawa.org.au/mining/index.html andhttp://www.energyres.com.au/ranger/mill_diagram.pdf andhttp://www.world-nuclear.org/education/mining.htm
Milling & LeachingThe ore is first crushed into smaller bits,then it is sent through a ball mill where itis crushed into a fine powder. The fine oreis mixed with water, thickened, and thenput into leaching tanks where 90% of theuranium ore is leached out with sulfuricacid. Next the uranium ore is separatedfrom the depleted ore in a multistagewashing system. The depleted ore is thenneutralized with lime and put into atailings repository. Sources: http://www.anawa.org.au/mining/index.html and http://www.energyres.com.au/ranger/mill_diagram.pdf
Yellowcake Meanwhile, the uranium solution is filtered, and then goes through a solvent extraction process that includes kerosene and ammonia to purify the uranium solution. After purification the uranium is put into precipitation tanks— the result is a product commonly called yellowcake.Sources: http://www.anawa.org.au/mining/index.html andhttp://www.energyres.com.au/ranger/mill_diagram.pdf
TransportationIn the final processes theyellow cake is heated to800˚Celcius which makes adark green powder which is98% U3 O8 . The dark greenpowder is put into 200 literdrums and loaded intoshipping containers and areshipped overseas to fuelnuclear power plants. Sources: http://www.anawa.org.au/mining/index.html and http://www.energyres.com.au/ranger/mill_diagram.pdf
Mining LeadersAustralia and Canada are currently the biggestUranium miners. The aforementioned processthat takes place in Australia is exported becauseAustralia does not have a nuclear energyprogram. The mining in Australian is primarilyopen pit, while the mining in Canada is mostlyunderground. Following is two charts—one isthe major uranium producing countries, the otheris of the major corporations that actually do themining. Source: http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/uwai.html
Production in 2000Canada 10,682Australia 7,578Niger 2,895Namibia 2,714 company tonnes UUzbekistan 2,350 Cameco 7218Russia (est) 2,000 Cogema 6643Kazakhstan 1,752 WMC 3693USA 1,456 ERA 3564South Africa 878 Navoi 2400China (est) 500 Rossing 2239Ukraine (est) 500 KazAtomProm 2018Czech Republic 500India (est) 200 Priargunsky 2000France 319others 422Total world 34,746 Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/search/index.htm
Other Mining Methodsopen pit Another method of 29% underground 40% uranium mining is in-situ in situ leach (ISL) 16% leaching. This method is by-product 15% used because there isreduced hazards to the employees of the mines, itis less expensive, and there are no large tailingsdeposits. However, there are also severalsignificant disadvantages including ground watercontamination, unknown risks involving theleaching liquid reacting to the other minerals inthe deposit, and an inability to restore theleaching site back to natural conditions after theleaching process is done. Source: http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/uisl.html
Community & Environmental ImpactsCommunities located near the mines and theworkers in the mines are most heavily impactedby the uranium mining industry. The NavajoIndians in Arizona were the first uranium minersback in the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Early on, littlewas understood about the dangers of uraniumexposure, and as a result there have been manyillnesses related to the mining. Despite safetyefforts, uranium miners are still at risk. Inaddition, tailings dams have broken andcontaminated drinking water in the communitiesnear the mines.
The Navajo MinersSome of the first uranium miners were Navajo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona.In the article by Timothy Benally “Navajo Uranium Miners Fight for Compensation,”Benally explains how the Navajo people came to know the dangers of uraniumexposure and how they are getting compensated. Vanadium mining started therearound 1918, but uranium mining did not start until after the Second World War.Before uranium was discovered there, it was not clear what this element was, and as aresult the tailings from the Vanadium (that contained high levels of uranium) were notstored properly—leading to excessive human exposure and environmental impacts onthe water supply and food production. To make things worse, once the element wasdiscovered, there was a large prospecting movement throughout the reservation. Inaddition, the major corporations that ran these mines, the Vanadium Corporation ofAmerica and the Kerr-McGee, companies paid unfairly low wages and did not warnthe workers of the dangers of the uranium. It was not until people got ill and weredieing that the workers and their families found out. In 1960 the workers and theirfamilies started the Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, which sought to warnother workers and families of the danger of exposure to uranium, but because therewas little alternative employment, many kept their jobs in the mines anyway. In1990, a bill was passed in congress to compensate radiation exposure victims, andsince then the Office of Navajo Uranium Workers has sought to identify exposedworkers and to provide medical care. There are currently 2,450 registered workers,and 412 recorded deaths of workers. Source: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/miners.html
Floyd Frank Floyd lost several brothers and other relatives to uranium related illnesses. He witnessed calves that had been born defected and sheep that have had lung problems. His view is that the US government wanted to see what happens to people exposed in these conditions. The water has been contaminated and, through the tributaries, so has the land. He says that the US government will only compensate someone if they have lung cancer, but he says that his brothers had sores all over theirSource: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/brugge.html bodies .
Donald YellowhorseDonald Yellowhorse is aresident of Cove,Arizona . He recallspiles of uranium aroundhis house and in histown. He says thatsome people had theirfoundations of theirhouses built with therock, and that the debriswas dumped directlyupstream from thedrinking water so thateveryone was exposed. He remembers that theeffects took some timeto notice and that bythe time effects wereobserved it was too lateto turn back. Source: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/brugge.html
Uranium miners today“Uranium threatens the health of mine workers and thecommunities surrounding the mines. According to theInternational Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,uranium mining has been responsible for the largest collectiveexposure of workers to radiation. One estimate puts the numberof workers who have died of lung cancer and silicosis due tomining and milling alone at 20,000. Mine workers areprincipally exposed to ionizing radiation from radioactiveuranium and the accompanying radium and radon gases emittedfrom the ore. Ionizing radiation is the part of theelectromagnetic spectrum that extends from ultraviolet radiationto cosmic rays. This type of radiation releases high energyparticles that damage cells and DNA structure, producingmutations, impairing the immune system and causing cancers.” Source: http://www.anawa.org.au/health/oc-health.html
Australia Tailings SpillsAccording to a Planet Ark article online, “Australia UraniumMines Come Under Spotlight,” Australia currently has foururanium mines—Ranger, Beverley, Honeymoon, andOlympic Dam—and they have plans for six more. Thearticle is about an inquiry that the Australian government ismaking into the mining business at the request of theAborigines and environmental groups. In 2002 there weretwo incidents involving the Ranger mine in which thestockpile with low-grade ore got downstream, and was notimmediately reported. In May of 2002 the Beverley minespilled uranium-contaminated water for the fourth time.The Beverley mine is owned by a subsidiary of a UScompany called General Atomics. Even worse than theBeverly mine record is that of Olympic Dam in whichhundreds of thousands of liters of uranium mining slurrywas leaked from a storage tank—for the seventh time.Source: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/16505/story.htm
USA Tailings SpillsOn July 16, 1979 the largest spill of radioactive isotopes in theUnited States, other than weapons testing was in the form ofuranium tailings erupted from the Church Rock Dam. Thebroken dam released eleven hundred tons of mill waste andninety million gallons of contaminated liquid in the Rio Puercoarea immediately effecting over 350 Navajo ranching families,and endangering the water supply of New Mexico, Arizona,Las Vegas, and Los Angeles—including Lake Mead. The causeof the breach was a dam that was not built to code—anaccident that could have been prevented if the properauthorities had done their jobs. The United NuclearCorporation, a corporation with a history of leaks, owned thedam. They have acknowledged fifteen tailing spills between1959 and 1977—seven of those were dam breaks—and at leastten of the spills got into major water systems. Source: Killing Our Own by Harvey Wasserman and Norman Soloman. http://www.ratical.org/radiation/KillingOurOwn/
Overview“…uranium mining, a polluting activity thatdevastates large areas. Uranium ore sometimescontains as little as 500 grams recoverableuranium per 1000 kilograms of earth. So,enormous amounts of rock have to be dug up,crushed and chemically processed to extract theuranium. The remaining wastes, which stillcontain large amounts of radioactivity, remain atthe mines. These "tailings" are often stored in avery poor condition, resulting in thecontamination of surface- and groundwater.” Source: http://www.antenna.nl/wise/
Nuclear Fuel Cycle We will start the nuclear fuel cycle with a brief explanation of how nuclear energy works, the enrichment process, and then power reactors. Following will be information on Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the risk of reactor leaks, and the impacts on the communities and the environment. Then we will discuss the nuclear weapons program, including the use of depleted uranium, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, weapons testing, and the effects on soldiers, victims, communities, and the environment.Source: http://www.sonic.net/~kerry/uranium.html
Key termsNuclear energy —synonymous with atomic energy, is the energy produced by fission or fusion of atomic nuclei.Atoms —are made of three main parts: protons, neutrons, and electrons . The protons and neutrons make up the center of the atom while the electrons orbit around the center .Atomic number —the number of protons in an element that identifies it.Isotope —if an atom has a different number of neutrons from protons. Isotopes, measured by their total weight called “mass number” are the sum of neutrons and protons. Some isotopes are unstable and will decay to reach a stable state—these elements are considered radioactive.Ion —if an atom has a different number of electron from protons.Fission — occurs when an atoms nucleus splits apart to form two or more different atoms. The most easily fissionable elements are the isotopes are uranium 235 and plutonium 239. Fissionable elements are flooded with neutrons causing the elements to split. When these radioactive isotopes split, they form new radioactive chemicals and release extra neutrons that create a chain reaction if other fissionable material is present. While Uranium, atomic number 92, is the heaviest naturally occurring element, many other elements can be made by adding protons and neutrons with particle accelerators or nuclear reactors. In general, the fission process uses higher numbered elements.Fusion —is the combining of one or more atoms—usually isotopes of hydrogen, which are deuterium and tritium. Atoms naturally repel each other so fusion is easiest with these lightest atoms. To force the atoms together it takes extreme pressure and temperature, this can be produced by a fission reaction.Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May and Energy and the Environment by JamesA. Fay and Dan S. Golomb.
Conversion To enrich uranium it must be in the gas form of UF6. This is called conversion. The conversion diagram shown here is from Honeywell. First the yellow cake is converted to uranium dioxide through a heating process (this step was also mentioned in the mining process). Then anhydrous hydrofluoric acid is used to make UF4. Next the UF4 is mixed with fluorine gas to make uranium hexafluoride. This liquid is stored in steel drums and crystallizes.Source: http://www.gat.com/converdyn/dfcp.html
EnrichmentUranium enrichment increases the amount of U235 incomparison to U238. Domestic power plants use a mixture thatis 3-5% U235, while “highly enriched uranium” is generally usedfor weapons, some research facilities, and naval reactors.Domestic reactors usually require fuel in the form of uraniumdioxide and weapons use the enriched mix in the form of ametal. The conversion and enrichment process is verydangerous because not only is the uranium hexafluorideradioactive, it is also chemically toxic. In addition, if theuranium hexafluoride comes in contact with moisture it willrelease another very toxic chemical called hydrofluoric acid.There have been numerous accidents during the conversion andenrichment process. Depleted uranium is the waste that isgenerated from the enrichment process. Source: http://www.anawa.org.au/chain/enrichment.html
Fuel FabricationAfter being enriched, the UF6is taken to a fuel fabricationfacility that presses thepowder into small pellets.The pellets are put into longtubes. These tubes are calledfuel rods. A fuel assembly is acluster of these sealed rods.Fuel assemblies go in the coreof the nuclear reactor. It takesapproximately 25 tonnes offuel to power one 1000 MWereactor per year. The pictureon the right is a fuel assembly. Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/education/nfc.htm
Transportation Radioactive materials are transported from the milling location to the conversion location, then from the conversionlocation to the enrichment location, then from the enrichmentlocation to the to the fuel fabrication facility, and finally tothe power plant. These materials are transported in specialcontainers by specialized transport companies. Peopleinvolved in the transport process are trained to respond toemergencies. In the US, Asia, and Western Europe transport ismainly by truck, and in Russia mainly by train.Intercontinental transport is usually by ship, and sometimesby air. Since 1971 there has been over 20,000 shipments withno incidents and limited operator exposure. Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf20print.htm Picture: http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/wat/facts.shtml
Nuclear Reactors There are usually several hundred fuel assemblies in a reactor core. There are several types of reactors, but they all use a controlled fission process with a moderator like water or graphite. During the fission process, plutonium is createdand half of the plutonium also fissions accounting for a third ofthe energy. The fission process makes heat that is converted toenergy (see following diagrams). Pictured above is the DiabloCanyon reactor in California. Source: http://www.world-nuclear.org/education/nfc.htm
Electricity Consumption 1-3) power is generated or imported. 4) high voltage power lines make up the “grid” that connects power generators and neighborhood substations. 5) substation steps down the power and connects to the distribution system. 6) the distribution systems link to most customers.Source: http://www.pge.com/006_news/006c1_elec_sys.shtml
Reactor TypesPRW—Pressurized Water Reactor—does not boil, but uses the pressure of the water to heat a secondary source of water that generates electricity. Most popular (accounts for 65% of reactors world wide). Considered a light water reactor.BRW—Boiling Water Reactor—boils water (coolant) that makes steam to turn turbines. Conducive to internal contamination. Also considered a light water reactor.RBMK—Graphite-moderated pressure tube boiling-water reactor similar to BWR but uses graphite and oxygen. Complex and difficult to examine.CANDU—Canadian Deuterium Uranium—Doesn’t use enriched fuel. Has lots of tubes and internal contamination issues.Magnox—Gas cooled reactor. Cooled with carbon dioxide or helium, and uses natural uranium. (UK and France).AGR—Advanced Gas-cooled—also cooled with carbon dioxide or helium. Uses enriched uranium. (UK).Fast Breeder—high temperature gas reactor. Uses U235, U238, and Plutonium 239. Very dangerous because it uses liquid sodium in the primary circuit and in inflammable with air and explosive with water. Source: www.world-nuclear.org/
Pressurized Water Reactor Source: http://www.uraniumsa.org/
Reactor HazardsReactor pose a serious threat radiation threat—especially tothe employees and surrounding communities. Recently theNew York times featured an article “Extraordinary ReactorLeak Get’s the Industries Attention.” The implication is that ifthis reactor can leak, so can others. Typically, the reactorsdevelop boric acid under their lids—which eats away at thesteel encasement (fixable), but this leak is in at the bottom ofa reactor.* In an article featured on CorpWatch, “Bechtel’sNuclear Nightmares” talks about a reactor that the Bechtelcorporation built in San Onofre—that’s been shut down since1992 for lack of safety upgrades. The problem is that there isno place to permanently send the reactor to and is a riskbecause it was built on a fault line.** Three Mile Island andChernobyl are two of the worst incidences of reactorbreaches and are explained in the following slides. *Source: www.nytimes.com/2003/05/01/national/01NUKE.html **Source: www.corpwatch.org/issues/PRT.jsp
Three Mile Island Three Mile Island is a pair of PRW’s. The second one was built in a hurry for tax purposes (started operation on December 30, 1798 to meet deadline). On March 28, 1979, the Pilot Operated Relief Valve wasstuck open and caused pressure to be released from theprimary cooling system. The fuel rods came apart andradioactive material discharged into the sky. Two days later3,500 pregnant women and children were evacuated.Although there were no official instructions to do so, manyothers left as well. Numerous residents in the aftermathdeveloped various cancers and thyroid diseases. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May; picture: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/crsweb/tmi/tmi.htm
Chernobyl Chernobyl had the RBMK design. In an experiment, technicians let the power of reactor 4 fall, and on April 26, 1986 the result was rapid power levels rising inside the core— melting fuel and causing a reactor containment breach—in additionto an internal hydrogen explosion. The top ofthe reactor blew off and spewed radioactivematerial into the atmosphere for 10 days. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May Picture: http://www.chernobyl.co.uk/
Health ImpactsThirty people died in direct relation to theaccident. They were the workers in the plant andthe people who assisted in the cleanup.Approximately 2,500 additional deaths wererelated to the accident. Since the accident rates ofThyroid cancer has risen significantly. The rate ofthyroid cancer in children 15 years and youngerincrease from 4 to 6 per million to 45 per millionin the Ukraine region between 1986 to 1997(compared to 1981 to 1985). 64% of these caseswere in the most contaminated regions. Source: http://www.chernobyl.co.uk/
Community Impacts116,000 people were evacuated from 1990to 1995 and 210,000 were resettled. Majorinfrastructure had to be rebuilt. There wasalso a shortage of electricity. Agriculturalactivities had to be reduced, which lead toa reduction in income. Source: http://www.chernobyl.co.uk/
Environmental ImpactsRadioactive fall out spread throughout theUkraine and Europe, and eventually thewhole northern hemisphere. In the localecosystem (10 km radius) coniferous tressand small mammals died. The naturalenvironment is recovering but there may belong-term genetic effects. Source: http://www.chernobyl.co.uk/
Locations of FacilitiesSource: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/three/maps/index.html
WeaponsNuclear weapons fall under two categories—fission weaponsand fusion weapons. Fission is splitting the nucleus of anatom into two or more elements, which causes a hugeamount of energy to be released. In addition if there is leftover neutrons they will cause fission in other elements—sustaining a chain reaction. Fusion is almost the reversebecause it requires the putting together of two nuclei. TheHydrogen bomb is a fusion weapon, while weapons that useU235 and Pu239 are fission weapons. A thermonuclearweapon detonates in three steps: fission chain reaction,fusion reaction, and then fission again. When athermonuclear weapon explodes, there is an explosion ofneutrons and gamma rays that causes a silent flash of heatand light, followed by the extreme pressure of a mushroomcloud that raises millions of tons of earth resulting in nuclearfallout. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Weapons Production Production plants involved in the manufacturing of weapons have also done significant harm to the environment and surrounding communities. Because the US was in such a hurry to make as many nuclear weapons as possible, there are many severely contaminated environments surrounding these sites. Of special note are Hanover Washington (evacuated in 1943)*, Rocky Flats Colorado (plutonium spontaneously igniting cause two major fires)*, and Fernald Ohio (contaminated ground water)**. All three of these sites are currently in the process of being cleaned up.*Source: Michael E. Long “Half-life: The Leathal Legacy of America’s NuclearWaste” National Geographic July 2002.**Source: www.fernald.gov.pfd
TrinityIn New Mexico on July 16, 1945 was Trinitytest, the first atomic explosion. The Trinitytest spread radioactive material over a 300square mile area, including Santa Fe, LasVegas, and Trinidad (Colorado). Later twobodies were discovered 20 miles from thedetonation location—the couple had beenliving in a nearby canyon in an adobe house. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Hiroshima & Nagasaki The Hiroshima bomb was nicknamed “little boy” (on the left) and was detonated on August 6, 1945 killing approximately 140,000 by the end of that year—and an estimated total of200,000 altogether. “Fat Man” (on the right) wasdropped three days later on Nagasaki killingapproximately 70,000 people. Entire families werewiped out. The effects of the radiation caused birthdefects in some of the survivors’ children, whileothers could no longer have babies. The physical,psychological, and environmental impacts of theseatrocities can hardly be put into words. Source: http://www.csi.ad.jp/ABOMB/
Hiroshima—afterThis picture was taken by a US army medic namedHenry Dittner in October 1945. Source: http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/hiro3.htm
Weapons Testing Since 1945 there has been 2,050 nuclear weapons tests world wide.* This picture is of “Dog Shot” in the Nevada desert in 1951. The second series of tests, the first series with large scale troops present. **Source: * http://armscontrol.org/act/1998_05/ffmy98.asp, **http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/naavmed.htm (and picture)
Health Impacts“The morbidity study for Crossroads contains data received from1,572 veterans of the 42,000 participating veterans. Thisrepresents a sample size of 3.74 %. The average death age ofthe 380 deceased veterans is 57 years. The incident of all typesof cancers in deceased Crossroads Veterans is 59%.The Incidence of all types of cancer in the 1572 reportingVeterans is 35%.The leading cancer types, ranging from 23% down to 6%, areskin, prostate, lymphoma, lung, urinary, colon, and esophagus.These percentages for the most part are seen in data on Ranger,Greenhouse, Buster-Jangle, Trinity, Tumbler-Snapper, Upshot-Knothole, Castle, and Redwing. Information from veterans fromother tests is needed before an analysis can be performed.Further study and data is needed to isolate target area, ie, tests,units, ships.” Quoted from: http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/naavmed.htm
Environmental & Community ImpactsNuclear weapons devastate large areas of landwith a forceful blast and intense heat. The landaround the blast zones are contaminated withradioactive debris. The mushroom clouds breakup slowly, and travel with weather patternswhich distributes fallout across the globe. Manyof the tests focus in rural, mainly uninhabitedareas, and as a result disproportionately affectindigenous and other peoples living in these ruralareas. Other important test sites that havedrastically impacted indigenous peoples includethe Marshall Islands (US) and Mururoa (France).
Weapons TransportationAnother significant threat is planes armed withthese weapons can (and have) crashed; andsubmarines have also sunk into the ocean. Inaddition there have been incidents in whichmaterial has just been dumped as well. Mayestimates that there are 60 nuclear weapons and10 reactors on the ocean floor from submarines,plane crashes, and dumping. Although verystrong casings likely guard them, the casings willeventually corrode resulting in radioactivecontamination of our ocean and marine life. Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Depleted Uranium Depleted uranium is what’s left over from the enrichment process and is radioactive. Uranium is a heavy metal that can easily penetrate amour. Depleted uranium is currently being used in Iraq, and was used in Kosovo, the Gulf War, and Bosnia. When a depleted uranium burns, radioactive particles are release into the air. Depleted uranium is also a toxic hazard.Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indepth/background/du.html
ImpactsJerry Wheat was hit with friendly fireduring the Gulf war and sufferedmysterious ailments when he returnedhome. When the shrapnel was removed itwas discovered that is was radioactive. Source: http://www.tv.cbc.ca/national/pgminfo/du/index.html “DU has been blamed for a number of leukemia cases among former Balkans peacekeepers” “The Iraqi authorities claim that DU is responsible for a marked increase in cancers“ Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/2860759.stm
Nuclear Waste There four different kinds of waste: High- level (spent fuel and plutonium waste), transuranic (contaminated tools and clothes), low and mixed low-level (hazardous waste from hospitals), and uranium mill tailings. In the US there is approximately 91 million gallons of high-level waste, 11.3 million cubic feet of transuranic waste, 472 million cubic feet of low and mixed low level waste, and 265 million tons of uranium tailings.Source: Michael E. Long “Half-life: The Leathal Legacy of America’s NuclearWaste” National Geographic July 2002.
StorageMany facilities store their own waste on site, butthey are quickly running out of space. Other sitesare in the process of being cleaned, but there is noplace to store the waste. Part of the problem is thehalf-life. Half-life is how long it takes for an unstableelement to decay half way. Uranium 238 takes 4.5billion years. Typically, after ten “half-lives” theelement is considered safe. Nuclear waste lackspermanent safe storage. Temporary storage is beingproposed for the Skull Valley Goshute Indianreservation, and permanent storage may be in Yuccamountain. Mean while waste and tailings are pillingup.Source: Michael E. Long “Half-life: The Leathal Legacy of America’s NuclearWaste” National Geographic July 2002.
Skull Valley GoshutesAccording to the Skull Valley Goshute Indian website theGoshute Indians in Utah recently made an agreement with aprivate utility to temporarily store 40,000 metric tons of spentnuclear fuel. The Goshute reservation is 18,000 acres, andalready surrounded by other polluting industries. To the southof the reservation is the Dougway Proving Grounds—agovernment chemical and biological weapons testing site. Alsoto the south is the Intermountain Power Project, which mainlymakes coal-fired electricity for California. To the east is agovernment depository of nerve gas, and to the northeast is alow-level radioactive disposal site and toxic waste incinerator.Finally, in the north is a magnesium production plant. On theSkull Valley Goshute website it is stated that since thereservation is already surrounded by hazardous facilities, andafter careful consideration and consultation with thegovernment, scientists, and corporations, they have enteredinto this agreement. Source: http://www.skullvalleygoshutes.org/
Moab, Utah This is a picture of a ten-million ton pile of uranium tailings. The pile is right next to the Colorado River, and leaks ammonia into it threatening the fish. The ownersof the pile when bankrupt, so no the citizens of Moab arewaiting for the Department of Energy to clean it up. Theclean up will cost an estimated 64 million dollars.Source: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0207/feature1/zoom3.html
Yucca Mountain Yucca Mountain located in southern Nevada. Although this location has not been built yet, the plan is to have the waste buried deep in the mountain. Waste would be transported from all over the country in specially design railroad cars and truck trailers. The waste would then be repackaged for final burial. This plan is highly controversial.Source: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0207/feature1/zoom3.htmlPicture: www.ocrwm.doe.gov
ImpactsRadioactive waste is highly dangerous tohumans and the environment. Because thewaste will remain radioactive for so long, itwill remain to be a threat for thousands ofyears.
ConclusionOverall, nuclear energy disproportionately effectsrural communities and the communities nearnuclear facilities. Uranium mining and bombingare particularly detrimental to the environment.Further, the effects of radiation (cancer, illness,and death) are significant. If you find yourself in asituation where you are being exposed toradiation, shield yourself from the blast, and thenmove as far away from the detonation area aspossible (otherwise remain indoors). Source: Ready.gov