Atom Wave: Radioactive Remix

Atom Wave

Monday, December 31, 2007

Radioactive Remix

Significant paranoia still surrounds modern nuclear fission plants. The legendary failures at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl still frighten many citizens with the threat of doom and mutanthood. Despite twenty-one years elapsing since the explosion at Chernobyl, many still fear the dark beauty of the atom. The hour is later than you suspect. Investigations have revealed that potentially harmful radioactivity waits for you at your nearest coal fired power plant.
Coal as you remember is a fossil fuel formed from the oxygen starved degeneration of swamp plants. It tends to form as a sedimentary rock and acquires minute radioactivity due to the presence of uranium and thorium. Once it is burned however this radioactivity gets amplified ten times and the final product fly ash can be up to 100 times more toxic then radioactive waste.
It turns out that people living near coal plants will receive the same amount of radiation or more than if they reside next to a nuclear power plant. It is estimated that this could be up to 18 millirems above the natural background radiation of 360 millirems. Background radiation includes artificial sources such as smoke detectors and residual fallout from past nuclear tests.

Evidence over the hazards of coal ash was first uncovered in 1978 by J.P McBride of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They measured the radioactivity of coal and its ash and used the values to estimate annual exposure for individuals living nearby.
Before you run screaming from your house, these numbers are only slightly above average. You will still have to take your chances at the hospital x-ray machine and I didn’t even mention the other toxins spewing from those smokestacks. Minors might still be at risk, so I’ll give them the head start.
The end of the debate over nuclear power remains nowhere near abating; in the meantime we still need somewhere to put the waste. Why not put it back where you mined it? I’m serious; it called Remix and Return. In this cycle you just take your waste and blend it with mining debris until it is back to its original level. Then all that is needed is to return it to the mine and you are finished.


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