Thursday, January 12, 2012

Radioactive Waste Effects on Environment

Radioactive waste effects on environment

What are the effects of radioactive wastes to the environment? it pollutes the environment which affect animals in their habitat. What are the effects of solid.

The primary obstacle in disposing of nuclear waste and cleaning nuclear development facilities is the duration of halflives of the elements that compose nuclear waste. For example, Uranium 235 has a half-life of 703,800,000 years. The half-life is the number of years required for any amount of uranium 235 to decompose by half (Probst 1998). Typically these elements will remain hazardous for ten times their half lives; therefore it would take about 7 billion years for uranium 235 to become non-threatening to humans. Also, the rate of decay of these elements is not affected by seasons, temperature, or any known solvents (Probst 1998). There is no real way of disposing of the waste, the only option is effectively manage the waste for the thousands of years until it decays completely. These contaminents can easily travel throughout different ecological systems and negatively affect humans (Radioactive Waste Management 2003). This diagram shows the vast amount of paths that radioactive waste can travel through. The air, the ground, ground water, transportation systems and agricultural consumption can all lead to human ingestion or contact with contamination.

This issue of the longevity of nuclear waste is a major problem facing the United States because of the large number of nuclear waste facilities  (Macdonald 1999). It has been noted that during the Cold War, "the Department of Energy paid scant attention to the environmental consequences of its actions," making current efforts to clean nuclear sites even more challenging (Probst 1998). The largest factors of environmental damage found at these sites are: extensive groundwater contamination, extensive soil contamination, buried soil or water containing harmful material or waste, and underground disposal facilities storing large volumes of hazardous, radioactive waste (Probst 1998).

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