Nuclear Legacy


"There is 10 thousand tons of nuclear waste on Earth." Many scientist are
in search for new and efficient ways to dispose of these lethal by-products
which can destroy life itself. Radioactive products can be either beneficial or
devastating. It all depends on how we use them. In the field of medicine, some
benefit from radiation include, radiation therapy for cancer patients. Not all
uses of radiation prove to be beneficial. Many use the power of the atom for
destructive purposes, introducing an age of nuclear warfare. It doesn\'t matter
if we use radiation for good or bad purposes, they all contribute to the growing
rate of "unwanted nuclear waste." The issue now is, how do we dispose of these
nuclear wastes?
Scientist have thought of several methods to dispose the nuclear by-
products. They tried to chemically treat the waste and reuse it, but "that would
cost a fortune". They thought of launching the waste into outer space but it too
will cost a fortune. They tried to dump barrels filled with nuclear waste into
the ocean but they started leaking. As you can see, there is a great need for a
nuclear waste disposal site. These sites may sound frightening, but it may be
the only way for us to dispose the devastation we had longed to create. In 1986,
the decision for a nuclear waste depositary proved to be "the most frightening
decision of the decade." Of these sites, three were chosen to be the "most
suitable" for the disposal of nuclear by-products. These three sites consisted
of Hanford, Washington; Yuka Mountain, Nevada; and Defsmith, Texas.
Hanford, Washington is a low populated U.S. city, and is owned by the
Department of Energy. A low populated city is an ideal site for radioactive
disposal. Although the city of Hanford is sparsely populated, geologists fear
the possibility of a nuclear seepage into the Colombia river. The Columbia
River is an important factor for the U.S. production of wheat. "This makes it
the worst of site," says the geologist. If the Colombia River is contaminated
with nuclear waste, it will lead to the contamination of land surrounding the
large body of water, thus making land unusable. Radioactive contamination of
the Colombia river will affect both America\'s economy and agricultural
production.
Yuka mountain, Nevada is a heavily guarded desert region of America. It
is far away from any lakes, rivers, or oceans, and its repository is located
above ground water levels. These geological conditions make Yuka mountain an
almost perfect place for nuclear waste disposal to take place. This is due to
the possibilities of earthquakes occurring quite frequently within this area.
It is said by the geologist that "if an earthquake was likely to occur, it will
only shake the nuclear materials, not enough to make them leak." Yuka mountain
is unfortunately located 70 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, a widely known tourist
attraction. Thus making Yuka mountain an unsound place for nuclear disposal.
Defsmith, Texas is known as the "most productive city in Texas". The
farmers from Defsmith rely on the Ogallala aquifer as a source of water for
agricultural growth. If a radioactive disposal site is created in this city, a
large pipe extending through the Ogallala aquifer will have to be built, thus
threatening the rich and fertile farmland. The construction of a disposal site
will also affect the genetic pureness of the seeds which farmers waited so long
to obtain. So much value will be lost if a disposal site were to be created in
Defsmith, making it not worth completing.
If I was a member of the Department of Energy and had to choose one of
these sites, I would have to choose Yuka mountain, Nevada for its ideal
geological conditions. This area is widely uninhabited and does not pose a
danger to the ground water supply. If earthquakes occur, not much would happen,
as the geologist stated. Although Yuka mountain is 70 miles from Las Vegas, I
would try to have the city evacuated and moved to a more safeguarded location.
thus making Yuka mountain the "most reliable" nuclear waste disposal site of the
three.
If I was a member of the Department of Energy and could not in good
conscious choose one of these three sites, I would propose a plan to launch
nuclear waste-filled lead capsules into an area in outer space with high levels
of natural radiation. Although it may cost a fortune, any price is worth saving
the Earth. I believe that by launching these capsules into space, our Earth
will be left unaffected and free from the possibility of