Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nuclear Radiation in Your Backyard

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state was used in making plutonium for one of the nuclear bombs used on Japan in WWII. As with other nuclear facilities, releases of radioactive elements into the surrounding environment occured. In a project dubbed Green Run, the facility also tested the effects of radiation on humans by deliberately releasing radioactive elements into the local environment. Apparently, it was done to test the ability of military equipment to detect Soviet plutonium facilities. The Washington State Department of Health has a lot of good background information on the facility.

There are many nuclear facilities around the United States that are military and non-military use. Countless reports of contamination and accidents have shown that nuclear power and weapons production are not safe. Now the nuclear power industry is coming back as an alternative source of power generation. Nuclear weapons are not going anywhere as more and more countries seem to be developing them. Somebody has to take the first step in stopping nuclear power development and the non-proliferation treaties need greater enforcement. It took 40 years for the people near Hanford to find out what was happening. What about other countries that do not have Freedom of Information requests or corrupt governments? We may never find out what is happening half way around the world and could contaminate the entire planet until it is too late.

2 comments:

Toxic Survivor said...

Thanks for shining a light on the nuclear release issue. It needs lots of light.

I agree that nuclear facilities have leaked, and will leak. They are operated by people, and people make mistakes. I don't agree with the solution. A complete end to nuclear power production is an option that world consumers won't support. Like ending the use of petrol, coal or insecticides, it comes with the choice of growth and modern conveniences. This is a choice too many of us continue to make.

The practical solution for nuclear polution is public review, close regulation and lots of press scrutiny. We are now paying the price for "trusting the experts" to look after nuclear. We will pay that price for centuries. We WILL have nuclear. If we are to live with it, we better be realistic, and look at it closely and often.

Toxic Surviver

FeButterfly said...

You are right. I think your view is quite optimistic. Oversight and regulation have not worked in many areas in the past. I think significant lifestyle changes to reduce power use will eliminate the need for nuclear power. Unfortunately, few people, from politicians to citizens, take a long-term view of anything.