Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Essay, Research Paper
Although the government believes that Nevada is an ideal place for nuclear waste storage, it is simply overlooking the obvious implications that would threaten both the environment and the people of the land.
Yucca was suggested to be a waste repository along with several other areas some years ago. This facility located at Yucca Mountain would house some of mans most dangerous elements, like plutonium. As with the Native Americans political power played a key role in the theft of their land. Nevada, having the least amount of political power has been exposed to the same issue Native American’s faced years and years ago. There was said to be a handful of proposed nuclear waste sites that were supposed to be individually examined for pros and cons, but after a laconic effort to examine each site some how all proposed sites were decided to be dropped from the list of potential nuclear waste sites except for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. It is also important to point out that the only two potential sites for nuclear waste are on or near Indian lands. These facts show an unjust system of decision made by the Department of Energy. The Yucca Mountain region is one of the least populated regions of the United States and without strong political efforts made it will eventually become a permanent nuclear waste village that all Nevada’s population will have to deal with and quite very possible be harmed by.
One of the most prominent problems with nuclear waste is the lethal factor it poses to mankind. “To properly understand the scope of the problem it is necessary to take into account the detrimental health effects of these materials” (Kuletz 84). The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that as little as 10 millionths of a curie of plutonium if inhaled can cause cancer in an average human being. But even with these alarming statistics, officials are still willing to take the health risks of storing the waste in a permanent storage facility at Yucca Mountain that in the long run could result in millions of citizens being diagnosed with cancer. If they do end up storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in the end, the only victims will be the citizens of the United States. Even with conclusive studies that are deemed un-conclusive by high paid scientists, the government insists on killing it’s own people with mass production of nuclear waste pouring out nuclear plants everyday. Studies reveal these elements kill, yet the DOE or Department of Energy changes science to fit into their master plan.
In the grants Uranium Belt region, a major source of uranium mining, over a hundred cases were reported of cancer and birth defects that directly relate to the nuclear materials such as uranium. Not only is nuclear substance extremely lethal to mankind, but the area of Yucca Mountain is said to have a incredible aquifer beneath it’s desolated surface. If the nuclear waste were to ever make its way into the vast water channels located within the aquifer there would be complete devastation. At some specific spots on the nuclear landscape underground streams emerge from below and reveal the extensive underground water source in the Yucca Mountain are. It is noted in Kuletz’s book on the numerous interviews she had with Native Americans in the Yucca Mountain region that a lot of them complained from thyroid cancer. Also many deaths have occurred in their families that they accredit to the tests and nuclear waste.
One must not only examine the effects that nuclear waste has Nevada’s water supply, but the adverse health effects when nuclear waste enters into our ecosystem and indirectly into our food chain. As Kuletz points out, “Scientists don’t really know how the water will flow through this environment thousands of years from now, how gases will move through it along pneumatic pathways, and most importantly how stable the earth will be (Kuletz 278).”
With the notion of a deep geological permanent waste storage facility it is difficult not to imagine the effects seismic activity could have on a such a (death barrel) located deep in the ground. In a world were weathermen have difficulty predicting what the weather will be like tomorrow it is difficult to comprehend waste will be deep in our mantle that is constantly changing and shifting as with the government always changing and neither of the two being static. As an earthquake occurs the epicenter feels the least amount of shock wave from the origin of creation. Which means that any deep geological facility would have more traumas to it then effects felt on the earth’s surface by us. Not only could such a problem pose incredible health hazards to nearby citizens, but the accident of an earthquake shattering or cracking the liner of a nuclear waste facility could quite possible kill millions of Americans. When dealing with an element that keeps the reputation of toxicity for 240,000 years I only feel one must understand that such a wide scale accident could cause an epidemic problem. But of course the DOE ignores the problem, maybe they know something we don’t. If the rate of nuclear waste continues to rise Yucca Mountain will be only the first of many lands claimed a wasteland and deemed to become a waste repository. Although Yucca Mountain would receive shipments of waste from states all around the country it is only fair to point out the danger of low and high level nuclear waste being transported through our state could be a killer.
If large drums of nuclear waste were continuously being carted into Nevada I feel that any city in our state would not be safe to reside in if at any time an accident was to occur with a vehicle transporting nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. If a plethora of states across the nation are producing this nuclear waste I feel it isn’t fair to put us Nevadans in jeopardy from their waste. Maybe all states should have their own storage facility for nuclear waste storage and deal with the health hazards themselves. I myself would entertain the thought of moving from the state knowing that the nuclear waste could be riding right next to me on the highway making it’s way to Yucca Mountain.
I’ve asked myself what the answer is to this entire “nuclear waste dilemma” and I still find it hard to decide what exactly should be done. Maybe research dollars should be spent on devising a system to launch this deadly substance into space and therefore maybe targeting the sun. If nuclear waste could be launched from earth into the sun, I feel that would be the end of some of the problems. But beyond all of the theory’s on what we should do or contrive in order to rid our planet of these horrible substances, there should be more effort put into who is actually causing the most harm. Let’s start pointing fingers and have names to speak of instead of saying “they” or “DOE”. I mean all thought discussions with various people on the topic everyone is referred to as they. “You know they say it won’t cause any harm”, who’s they? How about names so we can start working on letting our voices be heard to the right people that are going to make the most critical decisions to mankind.
I propose that if nuclear waste continues to increase at the estimated rate of 2,130 tons of plutonium in our air supply by the year 2005 (Kuletz 86) our planet will eventually become an entire nuclear melting pot. No one on this earth can escape it and things need to be changed. If Nevada isn’t the best site for nuclear waste storage then were is? Or maybe, there is no best place; nuclear waste doesn’t and shouldn’t belong on our planet.
Kuletz, Valerie L. The Tainted Desert. New York: Routledge, 1998.