Environmental impacts of nuclear waste.
Nuclear waste or radioactive waste is the residue of nuclear reactors, nuclear researches, nuclear projects and nuclear bomb reaction. Nuclear wastes, also known as spent fuel, are dangerously radioactive and could exist for thousands of years. The release of nuclear waste from its reactor could easily cause a lot of diseases like acute radiation sickness. The injection of nuclear waste to underground water causes water pollution and could contribute to extensive contamination of large marine areas. Some of these nuclear wastes injected to underground water could seep through and mix with underground water supplies used for drinking. Some pollutants or nuclear wastes have already penetrated underground water supplies of Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Also, there was intentional dumping of nuclear waste done by the Soviets into the Techa River in 1949. It caused the people of Mayak yearly dose of 350 rems, an estimated amount of one hundred twenty-four thousand of people were affected by the radiation from the nuclear waste thrown to the Techa River. The radiation that affected the people of Mayak did also spread out to the arctic waters of Northern Russia. Another example to site is the Western Soshone Land issue: “Over the last forty years, many Native American communities have been constantly exposed to low-level doses of radiation from a variety of different sources. Since more than half of all United States uranium deposits lie under indigenous lands, uranium mining, milling, conversion, and enrichment have become common activities, especially on Western Shoshone Land. In 1978, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) was passed. This Act reaffirmed the right of Native Americans to free access to religious lands and natural resources, even when these lands and resources extend beyond present tribal boundaries. In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. This Act proposed to safely dispose of nuclear wastes, bearing in mind the environmental and cultural impacts on Native American communities. Of three sites investigated for this use, DOE has given Yucca Mountain the greatest consideration. Part of the conflict rests in whether DOE's actions at Yucca Mountain impinge on the right of Native Americans to gain access to sacred natural resources. According to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACOHP), formed by the National Historic Preservation Act, these resources can be defined as any property that has traditional value to the tribe in question. That property need not have been consistent use since antiquity. It has been confirmed by the Western Shoshone and other tribes that Yucca Mountain has traditional value, despite spatial separation from it use due to invasion by private individuals and the federal government (Stoffle et al, 1990). In addition to the potential threat of power plant wastes, these communities are also being exposed to radiation from the Nevada Test Site (NTS), also located on traditional Shoshone land. The NTS has been used by the U.S. and Britain to test nuclear weapons for many years. The Western Shoshone National Council considers these tests to be more like bombs, because of the destruction that results from these experiments. Since 1951, approximately 1,350 square miles of their 43,000 square mile territory have been destroyed by hundreds of craters and tunnels that are no more than unsupervised nuclear waste dumps. There have been environmental monitoring reports issued throughout the years concerning the status of NTS, dated all the way from the 1950's to 1991. These reports prove the presence of substantial low-level radioactive releases of iodine, strontium, cesium, plutonium, and noble gases in outlying areas, with higher concentrations found in reservation communities in close proximity to NTS. Residents have reported unusual animal deaths, human hair loss, the soil in the area turning a dark black color,...
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