: 7. Radioactive & thermal wastes

Radioactive wastes and substances:

a. As we read in earlier notes, radon can be picked up by groundwater flowing over parent rock and carried into local water supplies.

b. Mining and nuclear operations:

Nuclear-waste found to move with groundwater

Scientists studying the movement of groundwater have found that radioactive contaminants can migrate over long distances faster than originally thought. This finding has enormous implications for current and future waste disposal facilities, according to the scientists who have been conducting field tests at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Approximately 50 percent of all Americans get their drinking water from groundwater sources, according to the US EPA.

RADIOACTIVE MINE WASTE POLLUTING COLORADO RIVER: Water tests reveal that "uranium mill waste" leaching into the Colorado River has made the water radioactive at "one-third the level considered dangerous," says the San Diego Union Tribune 1/10. The mine's owner, Atlas Corporation, has declared bankruptcy, leaving the bulk of the enormous clean up costs to taxpayers. The huge pile of mine waste "sits 750 feet from the river," and is leaking "an estimated 28,800 gallons of radioactive pollution and toxic chemicals" into the river each day.









8. Thermal pollution:

First onsider that 1/2 of the US water not used for agriculture is used to cool electric power plants-

Water which is 'warmed-up' and then released into water bodies speeds up the metabolism of most living organisms. As increased metabolism requires more oxygen to sustain that level, thus animals living in such areas have a greater need of available oxygen.

At the same time, the warmer the water the less dissolved oxygen the water can hold. As the energy of dissolved gases increases with heating, the more likely the gases are to move out of the water and into the atmosphere.

Net result,

  • Reduces plant life: T increase of 12F within a mile of an electric plant; reduced plankton life for a distance of 1-12 miles down stream.

Instead of thermal 'pollution' these waters could be used for therma. enrichment.

  • In Japan, warm waters are used to cultivate oysters, to extend the growing seasons of crops, and for cogeneration ( heat used to heat buildings).

Return to introduction 1. Go to sediments 2. Go to inorganics 3. Go to disease vectors 4. Go to plant nutrients 5. Got to organics 6. Go to Oxygen-demanding wastes 7. Go to radioactive & thermal wastes