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									                   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.
This presentation focuses on the entire
nuclear fuel cycle. It is designed to explain
the negative effects caused by the use of
and production of nuclear energy. It takes
you through the cradle to grave lifecycle of
nuclear energy, paying particular attention
to the social, environmental, and public
health impacts of the processes associated
with nuclear energy.
We will start with a brief introduction,
then extraction and processing of uranium.
We then discuss the distribution of uranium
to enrichment facilities, and the enrichment
process. This is followed by a more
detailed explanation of nuclear uses for
weapons and electricity production.
Following each will be a discussion of
distribution and consumption. Finally, we
will end with an analysis of nuclear waste.
                   Brief History
Nuclear energy was first discovered in 1934 by
Enrico Fermi. The first nuclear bombs were built
in 1945 as a result of the infamous Manhattan
Project. The first plutonium bomb, code-named
Trinity, was detonated on July 16, 1945 in New
Mexico. On August 6th 1945 the first uranium
bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. Three
days later a plutonium bomb was dropped on
Nagasaki. There is over 200,000 deaths
associated with these detonations. Electricity
wasn’t produced with nuclear energy until 1951.

 Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Radiation is the result of an unstable atom
decaying to reach a stable state. Half-life is the
average amount of time it takes for a sample of a
particular element to decay half way. Natural
radiation is everywhere—our bodies, rocks,
water, sunshine. However, manmade radiation
is much stronger. There are currently 37
radioactive elements in the periodic table—26 of
them are manmade and include plutonium and
americium (used in household smoke detectors).
            Types of Radiation
There are several different kinds of radiation: alpha
radiation, beta radiation, gamma rays, and neutron
emission. Alpha radiation is the release of two protons
and two neutrons, and normally occurs in fission of
heavier elements. Alpha particles are heavy and cannot
penetrate human skin, but are hazardous if ingested. Beta
radiation is when a neutron is changed to a proton or
visa versa, beta radiation is what is released from this
change. Beta particles can penetrate the skin, but not
light metals. Gamma rays is a type of electromagnetic
radiation which is left over after alpha and beta are
released and include X-rays, light, radio waves, and

 Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Penetration of Radioactive particles

Radiation is sometimes called ionizing radiation because ions are
created with the passage of the alpha, beta, and gamma rays. The effect
of radiation is on a cellular level—changing its functionality (causing
cancer or inherited birth defects) or killing it. Depending on the
information source, radiation doses are measured in rems or sievert, in
any case 100 rem = one sievert. An exposure of 100 Sv will cause
death within days, 10-50 Sv will cause death from gastrointestinal failure
in one to two weeks, and with an exposure of 3-5 Sv will cause red
bone marrow damage half of the time. Severe affects consist of burns,
vomiting, hemorrhage, blood changes, hair loss, increased susceptibility
to infection, and death. With lower levels of exposure symptoms are
cancer (namely thyroid, leukemia, breast, and skin cancers), but also
include eye cataracts. The radiation can also affect DNA causing
mutations that change individuals’ genes and can be passed on to future
generations. The current occupational dose recommended by the
International Commission for Radiological Protection is 50 mSv per
year. The average radiation dose per year for non-nuclear workers is
about 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.
Uranium is usually mined similarly to other heavy
metals—under ground or in open pits—but other
methods can also be used. After the uranium is
mined it is milled near the excavation site using a
leaching process. The mining process explained
here is a combination of two of the major mines
in Australia. Then we will look at the Navajo
uranium miners who were some of the first
uranium miners. Next I will explain some of the
other community and environmental impacts
associated with the mining processes.
                         Uranium ore is usually
                         located aerially; core
                         samples are then drilled
                         and analyzed by
                         geologists. The uranium
ore is extracted by means of drilling and blasting.
Mines can be in either open pits or underground.
Uranium concentrations are a small percentage of
the rock that is mined, so tons of tailings waste
are generated by the mining process.
Sources: and and
               Milling & Leaching
The ore is first crushed into smaller bits,
then it is sent through a ball mill where it
is crushed into a fine powder. The fine ore
is mixed with water, thickened, and then
put into leaching tanks where 90% of the
uranium ore is leached out with sulfuric
acid. Next the uranium ore is separated
from the depleted ore in a multistage
washing system. The depleted ore is then
neutralized with lime and put into a
tailings repository.

        Sources: and
                     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: and
In the final processes the
yellow cake is heated to
800˚Celcius which makes a
dark green powder which is
98% U3O8. The dark green
powder is put into 200 liter
drums and loaded into
shipping containers and are
shipped overseas to fuel
nuclear power plants.
       Sources: and
                Mining Leaders
Australia and Canada are currently the biggest
Uranium miners. The aforementioned process
that takes place in Australia is exported because
Australia does not have a nuclear energy
program. The mining in Australian is primarily
open pit, while the mining in Canada is mostly
underground. Following is two charts—one is
the major uranium producing countries, the other
is of the major corporations that actually do the
                      Production in 2000
Canada                           10,682
Australia                        7,578
Niger                            2,895
Namibia                          2,714       company                    tonnes U
Uzbekistan                       2,350       Cameco                                7218
Russia (est)                     2,000       Cogema                                6643
Kazakhstan                       1,752       WMC                                   3693
USA                              1,456       ERA                                   3564
South Africa                       878
                                             Navoi                                 2400
China (est)                        500
                                             Rossing                               2239
Ukraine (est)                      500
                                             KazAtomProm                           2018
Czech Republic                     500
India (est)                        200
                                             Priargunsky                           2000
France                             319
others                             422
Total world                      34,746

           Other Mining Methods
open pit
                         Another method of
 underground         40%
                         uranium mining is in-situ
 in situ leach (ISL) 16%
                         leaching. This method is
 by-product          15%
                         used because there is
reduced hazards to the employees of the mines, it
is less expensive, and there are no large tailings
deposits. However, there are also several
significant disadvantages including ground water
contamination, unknown risks involving the
leaching liquid reacting to the other minerals in
the deposit, and an inability to restore the
leaching site back to natural conditions after the
leaching process is done.
         In-Situ Leaching

   Community & Environmental
Communities located near the mines and the
workers in the mines are most heavily impacted
by the uranium mining industry. The Navajo
Indians in Arizona were the first uranium miners
back in the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Early on, little
was understood about the dangers of uranium
exposure, and as a result there have been many
illnesses related to the mining. Despite safety
efforts, uranium miners are still at risk. In
addition, tailings dams have broken and
contaminated drinking water in the communities
near the mines.
                   The Navajo Miners
Some 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 uranium
exposure and how they are getting compensated. Vanadium mining started there
around 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 a
result the tailings from the Vanadium (that contained high levels of uranium) were not
stored properly—leading to excessive human exposure and environmental impacts on
the water supply and food production. To make things worse, once the element was
discovered, there was a large prospecting movement throughout the reservation. In
addition, the major corporations that ran these mines, the Vanadium Corporation of
America and the Kerr-McGee, companies paid unfairly low wages and did not warn
the workers of the dangers of the uranium. It was not until people got ill and were
dieing that the workers and their families found out. In 1960 the workers and their
families started the Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, which sought to warn
other workers and families of the danger of exposure to uranium, but because there
was little alternative employment, many kept their jobs in the mines anyway. In
1990, a bill was passed in congress to compensate radiation exposure victims, and
since then the Office of Navajo Uranium Workers has sought to identify exposed
workers and to provide medical care. There are currently 2,450 registered workers,
and 412 recorded deaths of workers.

                            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 their
Source:   bodies .
                  Donald Yellowhorse
Donald Yellowhorse is a
resident of Cove,
Arizona . He recalls
piles of uranium around
his house and in his
town. He says that
some people had their
foundations of their
houses built with the
rock, and that the debris
was dumped directly
upstream from the
drinking water so that
everyone was exposed.
He remembers that the
effects took some time
to notice and that by
the time effects were
observed it was too late
to turn back.
           Uranium miners today
“Uranium threatens the health of mine workers and the
communities surrounding the mines. According to the
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,
uranium mining has been responsible for the largest collective
exposure of workers to radiation. One estimate puts the number
of workers who have died of lung cancer and silicosis due to
mining and milling alone at 20,000. Mine workers are
principally exposed to ionizing radiation from radioactive
uranium and the accompanying radium and radon gases emitted
from the ore. Ionizing radiation is the part of the
electromagnetic spectrum that extends from ultraviolet radiation
to cosmic rays. This type of radiation releases high energy
particles that damage cells and DNA structure, producing
mutations, impairing the immune system and causing cancers.”
            Australia Tailings Spills
According to a Planet Ark article online, “Australia
Uranium Mines Come Under Spotlight,” Australia currently
has four uranium mines—Ranger, Beverley, Honeymoon,
and Olympic Dam—and they have plans for six more. The
article is about an inquiry that the Australian government is
making into the mining business at the request of the
Aborigines and environmental groups. In 2002 there were
two incidents involving the Ranger mine in which the
stockpile with low-grade ore got downstream, and was not
immediately reported. In May of 2002 the Beverley mine
spilled uranium-contaminated water for the fourth time.
The Beverley mine is owned by a subsidiary of a US
company called General Atomics. Even worse than the
Beverly mine record is that of Olympic Dam in which
hundreds of thousands of liters of uranium mining slurry
was leaked from a storage tank—for the seventh time.
                 USA Tailings Spills
On July 16, 1979 the largest spill of radioactive isotopes in the
United States, other than weapons testing was in the form of
uranium tailings erupted from the Church Rock Dam. The
broken dam released eleven hundred tons of mill waste and
ninety million gallons of contaminated liquid in the Rio Puerco
area 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 cause
of the breach was a dam that was not built to code—an
accident that could have been prevented if the proper
authorities had done their jobs. The United Nuclear
Corporation, a corporation with a history of leaks, owned the
dam. They have acknowledged fifteen tailing spills between
1959 and 1977—seven of those were dam breaks—and at least
ten of the spills got into major water systems.
     Source: Killing Our Own by Harvey Wasserman and Norman Soloman.
“…uranium mining, a polluting activity that
devastates large areas. Uranium ore sometimes
contains as little as 500 grams recoverable
uranium per 1000 kilograms of earth. So,
enormous amounts of rock have to be dug up,
crushed and chemically processed to extract the
uranium. The remaining wastes, which still
contain large amounts of radioactivity, remain at
the mines. These "tailings" are often stored in a
very poor condition, resulting in the
contamination of surface- and groundwater.”
                  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.

                                   Key terms
Nuclear 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
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 James
A. Fay and Dan S. Golomb.
                       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.

Uranium enrichment increases the amount of U235 in
comparison to U238. Domestic power plants use a mixture that
is 3-5% U235, while “highly enriched uranium” is generally used
for weapons, some research facilities, and naval reactors.
Domestic reactors usually require fuel in the form of uranium
dioxide and weapons use the enriched mix in the form of a
metal. The conversion and enrichment process is very
dangerous because not only is the uranium hexafluoride
radioactive, it is also chemically toxic. In addition, if the
uranium hexafluoride comes in contact with moisture it will
release another very toxic chemical called hydrofluoric acid.
There have been numerous accidents during the conversion and
enrichment process. Depleted uranium is the waste that is
generated from the enrichment process.
                     Fuel Fabrication
After being enriched, the UF6
is taken to a fuel fabrication
facility that presses the
powder into small pellets.
The pellets are put into long
tubes. These tubes are called
fuel rods. A fuel assembly is a
cluster of these sealed rods.
Fuel assemblies go in the core
of the nuclear reactor. It takes
approximately 25 tonnes of
fuel to power one 1000 MWe
reactor per year. The picture
on the right is a fuel assembly.
                                    Radioactive materials are
                                    transported from the
                                    milling location to the
                                    conversion location, then
                                    from the conversion
location to the enrichment location, then from the
enrichment location to the to the fuel fabrication facility, and
finally to the power plant. These materials are transported in
special containers by specialized transport companies. People
involved in the transport process are trained to respond to
emergencies. In the US, Asia, and Western Europe transport is
mainly by truck, and in Russia mainly by train.
Intercontinental transport is usually by ship, and sometimes
by air. Since 1971 there has been over 20,000 shipments with
no incidents and limited operator exposure.
                   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 created
and half of the plutonium also fissions accounting for a third of
the energy. The fission process makes heat that is converted to
energy (see following diagrams). Pictured above is the Diablo
Canyon reactor in California.
   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
                       Reactor Types
PRW—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.
Pressurized Water Reactor

              Russian RBMK

                  Reactor Hazards
Reactors pose a serious radiation threat—especially to the
employees and surrounding communities. Recently the New
York times featured an article “Extraordinary Reactor Leak
Get’s the Industries Attention.” The implication is that if this
reactor can leak, so can others. Typically, the reactors
develop boric acid under their lids—which eats away at the
steel encasement (fixable), but this leak is in at the bottom of
a reactor.* In an article featured on CorpWatch, “Bechtel’s
Nuclear Nightmares” talks about a reactor that the Bechtel
corporation built in San Onofre—that’s been shut down since
1992 for lack of safety upgrades. The problem is that there is
no place to permanently send the reactor to and is a risk
because it was built on a fault line.** Three Mile Island and
Chernobyl are two of the worst incidences of reactor
breaches and are explained in the following slides.
                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
                                   a meet deadline). On
                                   March 28, 1979, the Pilot
                                   Operated Relief Valve was
stuck open and caused pressure to be released from the
primary cooling system. The fuel rods came apart and
radioactive material discharged into the sky. Two days later
3,500 pregnant women and children were evacuated.
Although there were no official instructions to do so, many
others left as well. Numerous residents in the aftermath
developed various cancers and thyroid diseases.
    Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May;
                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 addition
to an internal hydrogen explosion. The top of
the reactor blew off and spewed radioactive
material into the atmosphere for 10 days.
  Source: The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
              Health Impacts
Thirty people died in direct relation to the
accident. They were the workers in the plant and
the people who assisted in the cleanup.
Approximately 2,500 additional deaths were
related to the accident. Since the accident rates of
Thyroid cancer has risen significantly. The rate of
thyroid cancer in children 15 years and younger
increase from 4 to 6 per million to 45 per million
in the Ukraine region between 1986 to 1997
(compared to 1981 to 1985). 64% of these cases
were in the most contaminated regions.
      Community Impacts

116,000 people were evacuated from 1990
to 1995 and 210,000 were resettled.
Major infrastructure had to be rebuilt.
There was also a shortage of electricity.
Agricultural activities had to be reduced,
which lead to a reduction in income.

      Environmental Impacts

Radioactive fall out spread throughout the
Ukraine and Europe, and eventually the
whole northern hemisphere. In the local
ecosystem (10 km radius) coniferous tress
and small mammals died. The natural
environment is recovering but there may
be long-term genetic effects.

        Locations of Facilities

Nuclear weapons fall under two categories—fission weapons
and fusion weapons. Fission is splitting the nucleus of an
atom into two or more elements, which causes a huge
amount of energy to be released. In addition if there is left
over neutrons they will cause fission in other elements—
sustaining a chain reaction. Fusion is almost the reverse
because it requires the putting together of two nuclei. The
Hydrogen bomb is a fusion weapon, while weapons that use
U235 and Pu239 are fission weapons. A thermonuclear
weapon detonates in three steps: fission chain reaction,
fusion reaction, and then fission again. When a
thermonuclear weapon explodes, there is an explosion of
neutrons and gamma rays that causes a silent flash of heat
and light, followed by the extreme pressure of a mushroom
cloud that raises millions of tons of earth resulting in nuclear
   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 Nuclear
Waste” National Geographic July 2002.
In New Mexico on July 16, 1945 was Trinity
test, the first atomic explosion. The Trinity
test spread radioactive material over a 300
square mile area, including Santa Fe, Las
Vegas, and Trinidad (Colorado). Later two
bodies were discovered 20 miles from the
detonation location—the couple had been
living 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 of
200,000 altogether. “Fat Man” (on the right) was
dropped three days later on Nagasaki killing
approximately 70,000 people. Entire families were
wiped out. The effects of the radiation caused birth
defects in some of the survivors’ children, while
others could no longer have babies. The physical,
psychological, and environmental impacts of these
atrocities can hardly be put into words.



This picture was taken by a US army medic named
Henry Dittner in October 1945.
          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: *,
** (and picture)
                   Health Impacts
“The morbidity study for Crossroads contains data received from
1,572 veterans of the 42,000 participating veterans. This
represents a sample size of 3.74 %. The average death age of
the 380 deceased veterans is 57 years. The incident of all types
of cancers in deceased Crossroads Veterans is 59%.
The Incidence of all types of cancer in the 1572 reporting
Veterans is 35%.
The leading cancer types, ranging from 23% down to 6%, are
skin, 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 from
other 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:
   Environmental & Community
Nuclear weapons devastate large areas of land
with a forceful blast and intense heat. The land
around the blast zones are contaminated with
radioactive debris. The mushroom clouds break
up slowly, and travel with weather patterns
which distributes fallout across the globe. Many
of the tests focus in rural, mainly uninhabited
areas, and as a result disproportionately affect
indigenous and other peoples living in these rural
areas. Other important test sites that have
drastically impacted indigenous peoples include
the Marshall Islands (US) and Mururoa (France).
      Weapons Transportation
Another significant threat is planes armed with
these weapons can (and have) crashed; and
submarines have also sunk into the ocean. In
addition there have been incidents in which
material has just been dumped as well. May
estimates that there are 60 nuclear weapons and
10 reactors on the ocean floor from submarines,
plane crashes, and dumping. Although very
strong casings likely guard them, the casings will
eventually corrode resulting in radioactive
contamination 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.
Jerry Wheat was hit with friendly fire
during the Gulf war and suffered
mysterious ailments when he returned
home. When the shrapnel was removed it
was discovered that is was radioactive.


                       “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“

                       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 Nuclear
Waste” National Geographic July 2002.
Many facilities store their own waste on site, but
they are quickly running out of space. Other sites
are in the process of being cleaned, but there is no
place to store the waste. Part of the problem is the
half-life. Half-life is how long it takes for an unstable
element to decay half way. Uranium 238 takes 4.5
billion years. Typically, after ten “half-lives” the
element is considered safe. Nuclear waste lacks
permanent safe storage. Temporary storage is being
proposed for the Skull Valley Goshute Indian
reservation, and permanent storage may be in Yucca
mountain. Mean while waste and tailings are pilling
Source: Michael E. Long “Half-life: The Leathal Legacy of America’s Nuclear
Waste” National Geographic July 2002.
           Skull Valley Goshutes
According to the Skull Valley Goshute Indian website the
Goshute Indians in Utah recently made an agreement with a
private utility to temporarily store 40,000 metric tons of spent
nuclear fuel. The Goshute reservation is 18,000 acres, and
already surrounded by other polluting industries. To the south
of the reservation is the Dougway Proving Grounds—a
government chemical and biological weapons testing site. Also
to the south is the Intermountain Power Project, which mainly
makes coal-fired electricity for California. To the east is a
government depository of nerve gas, and to the northeast is a
low-level radioactive disposal site and toxic waste incinerator.
Finally, in the north is a magnesium production plant. On the
Skull Valley Goshute website it is stated that since the
reservation is already surrounded by hazardous facilities, and
after careful consideration and consultation with the
government, scientists, and corporations, they have entered
into this agreement.
                       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 owners
of the pile when bankrupt, so no the citizens of Moab are
waiting for the Department of Energy to clean it up. The
clean up will cost an estimated 64 million dollars.
                   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.
Radioactive waste is highly dangerous to
humans and the environment. Because the
waste will remain radioactive for so long, it
will remain to be a threat for thousands of
Overall, nuclear energy disproportionately effects
rural communities and the communities near
nuclear facilities. Uranium mining and bombing
are particularly detrimental to the environment.
Further, the effects of radiation (cancer, illness,
and death) are significant. If you find yourself in a
situation where you are being exposed to
radiation, shield yourself from the blast, and then
move as far away from the detonation area as
possible (otherwise remain indoors).

Source: Killing Our Own by Harvey Wasserman and Norman Soloman.

                US locations
The Green Peace Book of the Nuclear Age by John May
Atomic Veterans website


WWW A bomb museum

 Navajo Indian Miners

  DU article

 Arms Control website

  UK Chernobyl site

  TMI picture:
                        Sources cont.
Source: Michael E. Long “Half-life: The Lethal Legacy of America’s Nuclear
Waste” National Geographic July 2002.

National Geographic waste article (online version of above):
Yucca Mountain Picture:

Skull Valley Goshutes:

Fernald document:

DU article:

US Nuclear Map
 World Nuclear Association
Source: Killing Our Own by Harvey Wasserman and Norman Soloman.

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