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Nuclear Power Isn’t Clean — It Creates Hellish Wastelands of Radioactive Sewage

If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

Harvey WassermanTruthout October 12, 2022,

Joshua Frank’s brilliant Atomic Days, from Haymarket Books, takes us deep into the horrific clogged bowels of the failed technology that is nuclear power.

Frank’s excursion into the radioactive wasteland of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in eastern Washington State’s Columbia River Valley, is the ultimate real-world nightmare.

Unfortunately, it serves as a wailing siren for what faces us with the atomic wastes from our commercial reactors, now joined at the toxic hip to the global weapons industry.

“Like a ceaseless conveyer belt,” Frank writes, “Hanford generated plutonium for nearly four long decades, reaching maximum production during the height of the Cold War.”

It is now, he says “a sprawling wasteland of radioactive and chemic sewage … the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet.”

Current cost estimates to clean up the place, says Frank, “could run anywhere between $316 and $662 billion.”

But that depends on a few definitions, including the most critical: What does it mean to “clean up” a hellhole like Hanford? If you want to remove plutonium from a radioactive wasteland, what do you do so that it doesn’t create another radioactive wasteland? And what does that say about the 90,000 tons of high-level waste sitting at more than 50 U.S. commercial reactor sites?

To put it in perspective, we spend $2.6 billion each year just to preserve Hanford as it is. The clean-up estimate, according to Frank, has roughly tripled in the past six years, leaving us to believe that in another six years it could easily be over $6 trillion.

The environmental consequences are colossal. As Frank abundantly documents, Hanford is an unfathomable mess. Giant tanks are leaking. Plutonium and other apocalyptic substances are rapidly migrating toward the Columbia River, which could be permanently poisoned, along with much more. Local residents have been poisoned with “permissible permanent concentration” of lethal isotopes on vegetables, livestock, and in the air and drinking water.

Such exposures have even included a deliberate experiment known as the “Green Run” in which Hanford operatives “purposely released dangerous amounts of radioactive iodine.”

Such emissions are especially damaging to embryos, fetuses and small children, whose thyroids can be easily destroyed (as we are now seeing at Fukushima). But back then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to know how fallout would flow in wind currents.

The product was a “death mile” stretching from the Columbia River basin to the ocean, filled with casualties of radioactive poisoning.

After decades of devastating leaks from defective storage tanks, the Los Angeles Times reported that more radioactivity was stored at Hanford “than would be released during an entire nuclear war.”

Thousands of such tanks at Fukushima may soon be given a governmental green light to dump their poisons in the Pacific, with potentially apocalyptic results.

At Hanford, “the waste was so hot it would boil … for decades to come,” i.e., right up to the present day, writes Frank.

Despite official denials, Frank documents a terrifying range of catastrophic leaks into the soil, water tables and streams throughout the reservation. By 1985, he writes, “despite $7 billion spent over the previous ten years, no progress had been made in ridding the aging tanks” of their deadly offal.

To this day “Hanford remains the most complex environmental mess in the United States,” riddled with problems that provide huge profits for corporations that land clean-up contracts and then fail to deliver, exceeding the complexity even of the infamous waste dump at West Valley, New York, and the highly radioactive fallout zone at Santa Susana, California, just north of Los Angeles.

But Hanford’s not alone. Frank also takes us to Chelyabinsk, the site of a Soviet era disaster, and to another wasteland around Kyshtym. Like the 1000-square-mile “dead zone” around Chernobyl, Hanford is full of areas where human life is perilous at best. ………………………………………………….. more https://truthout.org/articles/nuclear-power-isnt-clean-it-creates-hellish-wastelands-of-radioactive-sewage/

October 13, 2022 - Posted by | - plutonium, USA

1 Comment »

  1. Nuclear war started, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed by the evil usa imperial bastards. The Usa has maintained it owned half the world for 175 years, with the Monroe doctrine.. After ww2, the generals decided they own all of the world. The nuclear war in Ukraine, Began when nato, pulled their evil deeds in 2014. Just like when the evil usa put missiles in turkey in 1963 and, started the Cuban missile crisis.
    Ukraine is already a radioactive hellhole I’ve been there. Like Northern Japan. Nucleoapes are evil bastards. There is already nuclear crap stirred up in Ukraine, from this hideous war. Probably some areas more contaminated, than most people will ever know.
    There will be a nuclear release. that will go over most of Europe. To Germany, fascist tory UK and soon to be fascist Sweden. The stupid Germans, do not remember how awful chernobyl was. Otherwise they would be brokering peace. The Western world has gone insane!

    Comment by Cat Tu | October 13, 2022 | Reply


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