Radioactive Pollution

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Radioactive Pollution

Radioactive pollution is perhaps the most damaging form of pollution but thankfully the least common. This type of pollution generally causes air, land, and water pollution as a secondary effect and is very dangerous if not managed correctly.

Consider these radioactive pollution facts:

  • There have been over 2,000 nuclear weapons fired in total since the first explosion in 1945.
  • The area where the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl occurred, is surrounded by a 2600 km2 zone of exclusion where it is unsafe for humans to live
  • More pollution facts.
  • Radioactive Pollution is caused by:

    • Nuclear Power Plants
    radioactive pollution
    Image by Paul J. Everett

    Nuclear power plants bring a lot of energy into the environment and, if managed correctly, don’t leave a great deal of radioactive pollution. Sadly, a large disaster such as Chernobyl has huge consequences, which the aftermath will last decades if not centuries, causing all sorts of genetic abnormalities to all forms of life.

    • Nuclear Weapons

    The production, detonation, and then decommissioning of nuclear weapons causes radioactive material to be left behind. While the production and decommissioning clearly do not leave as much material behind as detonation, just the threat of detonation alone is enough to warrant very strict government regulation.

    • Uranium ore mining

    Mining of radioactive ore can cause small amounts of radioactive pollution but is generally not particularly large scale and harmful unless something goes wrong with the process.




    Why is radioactive pollution bad?

    Radioactive pollution is a problem because were something to go wrong, the repercussions are catastrophic. Radioactive material causes DNA abnormalities in most living organisms on the planet and contributes to all other major forms of pollution. Many consider just the presence of nuclear weapons to be enough of a threat. World disasters involving nuclear weapons and power plants always cause large setbacks which last a very long time because radioactive material can take centuries to decay.

    Ways we can combat radioactive pollution:

  • Proper management of nuclear ore mining and nuclear power plants
  • Different government and environmental agencies need to work together to ensure that nuclear power plants are kept to strict guidelines which do not release radiation to the surrounding environment. This requires good law making and enforcement of these policies.

  • Reduction of nuclear weapon use
  • There has been an international treaty to reduce nuclear arm production, called The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Part of this is to reduce current stores of nuclear weapons which are not necessary to have around, and the other part is to prevent the use of current weapons.

    References:

    Bondarkov, Mikhail D.; Boris Ya. Oskolkov; Sergey P. Gaschak; Sergey I. Kireev; Andrey M. Maksimenko; Nikolai I. Proskura; G. Timothy Jannik (2011). Environmental Radiation Monitoring in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – History and Results 25 Years After. US: Savannah River National Laboratory / Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.