With the dawn of the nuclear age in the early 1900’s, came a problem that became a force to be reckoned with. Its name is nuclear waste. This is yet another harmful side effect brought on by man’s drive to find the cheapest and most powerful source of energy technology has to offer. Nuclear waste, ranging from harmful radiation caused by nuclear meltdown to unused military weaponry, has been a serious issue in the past few decades, and is a perfect example of humans effect on nature.
Many would argue that the history of nuclear energy and nuclear waste began in 1898 when Marie Curie discovered two radioactive elements; polonium and radium.1 The nuclear scene was relatively quiet until 1838, when a German scientist, Otto Hahn was successful in demonstrating nuclear fission.2 This set off an alert that reached the ears of Theodore Roosevelt, who was President of the United States at the time. With the threat of Germany making a nuclear bomb, the nuclear race was on. The Manhattan Project was launched in an effort to secretly build a nuclear bomb before the Germans.
The most commonly known events in nuclear waste history were the near catastrophic meltdowns at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, and Chernobyl power plant in The Soviet Union. Radiation leakage was minimal at Three Mile Island, however, Chernobyl experienced the release of massive quantities of radioactive materials accompanied by a dangerous fire.3 People from all nations came in contact with radioactive particles which the wind blew around the Earth. These two events sparked nuclear awareness by the general public as well as governmental programs that...
... middle of paper ...
...only aid in cleaning up and preventing nuclear waste, but also to inform and educate the public. Until more effective methods of nuclear waste management are devised, the energy hungry U.S. will have to put up with the environmental parasite it has created.
1. "Curie, Marie" Funk and Wagnalls
2. "Hahn, Otto" Funk and Wagnalls
3. Meshkati, "Chernobyl"
27 March, 1999
4. Konrad B. Kauskopf, Radioactive Waste Disposal and Geology (London: Chapman
and Hall, 1988) 10-11
5. "mixed waste" < http://www.epa.gov/radiation/mixed-waste/> 28 March, 1999
6. "mixed waste" < http://www.epa.gov/radiation/mixed-waste/> 28 March, 1999
7. "Yucca Mountain Homepage"
28 March, 1999
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