By Diya Barmecha
Uranium plays a vital role in the making of the atomic bomb. It has the ability to destroy millions of acres of land, as it did in Japan. With countries like India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, up against each other. War is in the making and the use of an atomic bomb would be catastrophic. This bomb has the ability to wreck the entire city in one strike!
Uranium is mined in many major countries and traded to smaller ones. Some of these countries include Australia, Canada, and Kazakhstan. In the process of extraction, first, the ore is crushed in a mill and during that process, it produces a liquid. This liquid is filtered and then separated by a process of ion exchange. This liquid is leached with sulfuric acid.
Another way is to extract the ores from water which means the crushing process is faster because the ore is already moist. However, landmines contain the best concentration to form an adequate amount of deposit. The process of mining and reclamation has the potential to affect the quality and quantity of surface water, groundwater, soil, air quality, and biota. These effects can not be replaced because freshwater is a nonrenewable resource and once we run out we can not access it again.
Many uranium mines are in the water which is why the uranium hasn’t been suspended and the water develops a muddy texture and the other parts of the water evaporate. However, uranium doesn’t affect freshwater as much as other resources. Another negative effect of uranium is its release into the environment. This occurs because of the erosion of mountains situated next to the mines.
To help the environment mining of uranium has to reduce but the use of uranium is a replacement to nonrenewable resources. However, the extraction of uranium has increased by at least 50% worldwide and with these sudden changes, the earth’s crust changes into an unfamiliar situation which leads it to cause an earthquake and an increase in gamma radiation. With extractions happening all around the world, gamma radiation is spreading faster than anticipated by scientists.
One major use of Uranium is to make nuclear weapons. Depleted Uranium is used as a source of shielding the war tanks. The first atomic bomb fired used uranium. This was used by the United States in Hiroshima, Japan. The casualty count was around 90,000 and 146,000 people. This bomb consisted of enough uranium-235v isotope that it had the power to start a runaway chain reaction. This could cause a large number of uranium atoms to undergo fission. This would result in a huge release of a fireball of energy. This use of uranium is destructive and violent.
A major nonviolent use of uranium is to use as fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. We can’t replace this resource for this use because power plants are a replacement for other non-renewable resources. These incidents proved to show power plant failures. The Chernobyl disaster occurred in 1986. This disaster was rated a seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. The Chernobyl incident started when a safety test used by the entire Societ Union was conducted. Though this was a very common procedure, the power plant was unstable and it reacted. A fairly large amount of energy was released which vaporized the cooling water and ruptured the reactor core.
Uranium could affect the soil in various concentrations. Many ask uranium to the soil to help industrial activities. Uranium acts as a fertilizer to plants in many fields. This helps countries with a low budget for agriculture like India. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, introduced the zero-budget agriculture to improvise on the budgets. Uranium may be harmful to the environment but it is the cheapest version and most accessible in the world of today.
Along with environmental and health risks, there are also labor restrictions. For example, according to Richmond news, Southside Virginia, has 1,000 people working in the process of the extraction of uranium only. There are also people working in the factories and the mills and even more people to work out the trade and exports of uranium. The Virginian government is aware of the risks and its harm to the nearby residents. Many have migrated to other parts of the country just to avoid the risks of all the radiation. Though they know this, the government is adamant not to stop the productions because they own one of the most exporting money. A study conducted by the Virginia Uranium representatives concluded that “ the enormous positive economic impact the project will have on business, families, and communities throughout the region, can not be achieved with something else.
In 1944-1986 the United States was the largest exporter of Uranium and extracted 4 million tons of uranium ores from the mines. In the process, the project was earning so much money that they decided to take a break. They left 500 mines abandoned in the native Navajo territories and the rate of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases in that area drastically escalated. Since the worker’s wage still hadn’t been completely paid, they had to continue the project However, they tested out a new invention. They included caping in the open mines to reduce the random emanation and reactions. This invention is tested by the standard exam of “Assessment of Technologies for the Remediation of Radioactively Contaminated Superfund Sites” This is now used in many mining systems around the world and has proved to be better than no interference in the system. It may not remove the threat completely but it can definitely contain it in a better way. Every mine under the U.S Environmental Protection Agency is using this strategy.
Even though Uranium has many advantages and is a great replacement for natural fertilizer and definitely more cost-effective. The aftermath of the extraction of uranium can affect people through direct and indirect ways. Not only their health but also the stop of uranium trade will help the government move in new directions. Even with the system of caping the environmental risks are only minimized to occur again. It may not affect human health but it contributes greatly to global warming. Countries that have a bigger budget for agriculture should use natural fertilizers. Additionally, in my opinion, the use of an atomic bomb should be banned in all countries.
The United Staes of America proposed the ‘Treaty on the prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’. For this treaty to pass, it required 50 signatories. However, to America’s dismay, it was only signed by 26 countries. Many countries were leaning toward this and hoping for the ban but without co0operation of others, we can not change the world or even move towards changing it.
The Health and Environmental Impact of Uranium Mining, large.stanford.edu/courses/2017/ph241/longstaff1/.
How Uranium Ore Is Made into Nuclear Fuel – World Nuclear Association, https://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-basics/how-is-uranium-ore-made-into-nuclear-fuel.aspx.
“Read ‘Uranium Mining in Virginia: Scientific, Technical, Environmental, Human Health and Safety, and Regulatory Aspects of Uranium Mining and Processing in Virginia’ at NAP.edu.” National Academies Press: OpenBook, https://www.nap.edu/read/13266/chapter/9.
“Water Treatment Solutions.” Lenntech Water Treatment & Purification, www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/u.htm.