* Radiation is energy that travels in the form of waves or particles. There are different types of radiation. The type of radiation that is used in nuclear power has enough energy to break atomic bonds, and is referred to as “ionizing radiation”.
* The most common forms of ionizing radiation are alpha and beta particles, or gamma or X-rays. Any living tissue in the human body can be damaged by ionizing radiation.
* Children and the elderly tend to be the most affected by ionizing radiation.
* Health physicists generally agree on limiting a person’s exposure beyond background radiation to about 100 millirems per year from all sources. Background radiation can normally be measured at 360 Millirems/Yr.
* Background radiation can be found in everyday or natural objects such as rocks, cosmic rays from outer space and the sun, radon in the air, uranium, radium and thorium in the earth, radioactive potassium in our food and water, and from within our own bodies.
* If the Yucca Mountain project is approved, many Clark County residents could receive involuntary doses of radiation, particularly truck drivers, highway patrolmen, and any person that is stuck in traffic or drives near a nuclear waste transportation vehicle.
* Studies have shown that the shipment of high level radioactive waste will impose measurable doses on people who live and work within one-half mile of a proposed route.
* The radiation level emitted from nuclear waste containers is 10 millirems/hour at a 2-meter distance, dropping to .22 Millirems/hr at 50 feet. Exposure at 10 millirems/hour is the equivalent of the average person receiving 2 chest x-rays an hour.
DOE NUCLEAR STORAGE SITES
The detritus of the nuclear age includes 52,000 tons (47,000 metric tons) of spent fuel from commercial, military, and research reactors, as well as 91 million gallons (345 million liters) of radioactive waste from plutonium processing. Most reactors lie east of the Mississippi River, guaranteeing a cross-country trip by road and rail to transport the high-level waste to the proposed 50-billion-dollar repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Some 50 miles (80 kilometers) of tunnels in Yucca’s volcanic tuff could hold 77,000 tons (70,000 metric tons) of waste. DOE has judged the site to be “scientifically sound,” and President Bush approved it earlier this year. Hotly disagreeing, the state of Nevada exercised its right to veto, which Congress can override. Even with a go-ahead, DOE must prove the Yucca facility will meet EPA requirements that radiation be safely contained for 10,000 years.
Each of these steel cylinders at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky holds 14 tons (13 metric tons) of depleted uranium left over from an enrichment process that changes ore to fuel for reactors. The nation’s 770,000 tons (700,000 metric tons) of depleted uranium are not officially classified as waste, because the dense material can be used as ammunition and tank armor. Uranium processing at Paducah has tainted local groundwater. To help alleviate the problem, the government is experimenting with chemicals to dissolve the pollutants.
Citizens of Moab, Utah, complain about this ten-million-ton (nine-million-metric ton) pile of uranium tailings from the processing of uranium ore, perching like a ziggurat near the Colorado River. The pile leaks ammonia into the river, threatening endangered fish. Responsibility for cleanup passed to the Department of Energy after the pile’s owner went bankrupt. Moabites want it moved. DOE says that would cost 64 million dollars and is assessing the possibility of an on-site cleanup.