Nuclear Waste or also known as radioactive waste is the material produced by nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, research facilities, and even ordinary hospitals that contains radioactive component. This material has been known to be dangerous to a lot of life forms, and the environment itself. Thus, a lot of government agencies do their best to keep it regulated at all times. Naturally, radioactivity decays over time. Therefore, nuclear wastes are stacked, separated and confined in a proper disposal facility for a period of time, until it is considered to be neutralized.
How Does Nuclear Waste Disposal Work?
Nuclear wastes can come in different forms, solid, liquids and gas. Depending on where the waste came from, it lasts a few hours, and can even last hundreds of years, or thousands! If this material is disposed improperly, it will not just put harm to the nearby environment, but also to the people living in it.
For nuclear power plants, the reactors integrate fuel in the construction of ceramic uranium dioxide pellets which are sealed inside some metal rods. When the usable uranium disappears, the rods are disposed. But before that, they are commonly processed with chemicals to extract unutilized uranium.
Why are Nuclear Wastes harmful?
It is no surprised that nuclear wastes are considered to be hazardous materials. But, not all of us really knows how nuclear wastes is dangerous. In fact, the radioactivity found nuclear wastes are the main source of negative effects on human health, and the environment. Although small amounts of radiations aren’t exactly harmful to human beings, since we’re naturally exposed with the radiation emitted by the earth itself. However, high amounts of this hazardous material can leave permanent issues and even death.
It is the sickness resulted to the exposure of high amounts of radiation in just a short duration. This type of exposure can cause damage to our cells and result to cancer. If you get exposed to an acute amount of high-levels of radiation from nuclear wastes, this leads to radiation sickness. Symptoms may include all or some of the following, skin burns, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, overall weakness and probably death.
Stochastic Health Effects
Stochastic Health Effects are the long-term, chronic radiation exposure. The more you increase the levels of exposure to radiation, the more these effects will show. One of the most common health effects of being exposed to nuclear waste is cancer. But there are also other effects, including NA alteration, which is known as mutations.
Non-Stochastic Health Effects
These effects occur when you’re exposed to high levels of nuclear radiation. Because of this, it becomes worse as the amount of exposure also increases.
Besides the health effects, there are also dangers of nuclear wastes to our environment. All of the nuclear power plants integrate water from the bodies of water nearby to cool their machines, avoiding overheating and leaking of radioactive material. Some of the excess water is released to back to waterway. This water alone can already be contaminated with salts and heavy metals coming from the power plants. And with its high temperature, this can disrupt life forms in the body of water, including fishes and plants.