About Me

My photo
Science communication is important in today's technologically advanced society. A good part of the adult community is not science saavy and lacks the background to make sense of rapidly changing technology. My blog attempts to help by publishing articles of general interest in an easy to read and understand format without using mathematics. I also give free lectures in community events - you can arrange these by writing to me.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Part 5: Contamination of the Environment as a Result of Nuclear Weapons Development

Contamination of the Environment as a Result of Nuclear Weapons Development

We are talking of radioactive contamination here.  This happens in two ways: Contamination at the reactors and facilities that produce Pu-239 and highly enriched U-235.  Nuclear weapons tests have contributed to radioactive fallout and has been politically more damaging causing international outrage.
Both the US and Soviet programmes were conducted with the aim to produce the bomb as soon as possible.  Safety of the personnel, environment and people nearby did not have a high priority and then there are always 'enthusiastic' officers who, with lax controls, did not hesitate to undertake dubious scientific experiments on lab workers, soldiers, prisoners etc.

First we have some slides to show the important facilities in USA and USSR and then describe the sort of contamination that was caused by the programmes. The US Pu-239 production was at the Hanford (Richland), WA site; HEU facilities were at Oar Ridge, TN.  The bomb was designed at Los Alamos, NM.  The Soviet bomb was designed at Sarov (Arzamos).

It might be fair to say that the radioactive contamination has been much more serious in the Soviet Union than it is in the USA.

No comments: