The Discovery Of Nuclear Weapons

1801 WordsJan 27, 20158 Pages
The discovery of nuclear fission allowed humanity to tap into a powerful new energy source, one which generated significantly lower atmospheric emissions than traditional fossil fuel-burning generators. However, this power was also harnessed into creating weapons with unprecedented destructive capabilities. During the height of the Cold War, several nations feverishly produced nuclear weaponry, often with little regard for the proper disposal of the wastes generated by the processes and the potential environmental damage that these wastes could cause. It was this lack of foresight that has lead to many sites associated with nuclear weapons development and production to become thoroughly contaminated with radioactive and other hazardous wastes. One such site, the Hanford Site in Washington, USA, is one of the US Environmental Protection Agency 's largest and most costly Superfund clean-up sites. While less polluted than its American counterpart, the British Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site in Aldermaston, Berkshire, UK, nevertheless is contaminated with varying amounts of byproducts from nuclear weapons production and maintenance, including radionuclides, heavy metals and organic chemicals. Historical waste disposal methods have proven, over time, to be less permanent and effective than was originally believed, which has led to a number of issues stemming from poor containment of the wastes at disposal sites. Remediation of these wastes is typically performed by
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