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The Environmental, Social and Ethical Consequences of mining, processing and using Uranium.

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The Environmental, Social and Ethical Consequences of mining, processing and using Uranium Uranium, an element of the chromium group, never occurs naturally in a free state, although through processes of extraction it can be obtained from rare complex minerals such as pitchblende, carnotite, and uranite. Unfortunately, mining and using Uranium has become an issue that the world must tackle. At every stage of Uranium's life, problems arise and damage our world, whether it is in an environmental, social or ethical sense. Before the uranium can be used it has to be mined. Pitchblende, a dark mineral that is the chief source of uranium, is "taken from the earth like any other metal, blasted and dug" from open-pit mining, surface mining and underground mining. Although, the creation of the mines causes great environmental damage because they not only destroy natural landscapes, they also drive people and other organisms from their habitats. Also the uranium mines and their processing operations in nuclear reactors produce sandy wastes called tailings. These contain several radioactive elements, including thorium, radium, and radon, which emit low levels of radiation. This increases radiation risks to the workers, and environmental contamination. ...read more.


amounts of energy), uranium, being the chief fuel of nuclear reactors, gained importance as people started to realize potential of nuclear energy. The fact that a small piece of uranium can be used to produce massive amounts of energy makes the use of nuclear power plants very efficient, and it also means that uranium will outlast the fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is also one of the cleanest ways of energy production due to fact that there are hardly any greenhouse gases created during the energy production process, thus decreasing the atmospheric damage. Unfortunately there are problems with the disposal of radioactive waste products. Some of the waste decay in 10 to 100, while others take thousands of years and there is still no known technology for changing any of these radioactive materials into non-radioactive forms. The only way to prevent exposure of these radioactive wastes to the world is to isolate them in repositories until the wastes are no longer radioactive. Although, if and when a permanent repository is built for high-level wastes, the wastes will have to be transported from nuclear power plants and other temporary storage places to the repository. ...read more.


Society was against the use of nuclear weapons from the start. Using such a wonderful source of energy that served many towns, to create weapons of destruction just didn't appeal the ethical beliefs of many people. Unfortunately, the governments of many countries permitted the usage of nuclear weapons, which made it harder for people to protest against it. Uranium could play a major role in our future if all safety precautions are taken to reduce the number of accidents per year, because not only is it one cleanest ways of energy production known to man, it is also the most efficient (according to the scientific research in the United States, which states "1 cubic centimeter of Uranium creates more energy than 1.4 tons of coal"). Uranium is also predicted to outlast all the fossil fuels because of the vast amount of it underground and its efficiency. It's possibly that we could win the struggle against nuclear warfare and end conflicts, but to do so we'll need to go out there together and make the world a better place to live, not only for us but for all the future generations to come! http://www.mna.hkr.se/~ene02p7/nuclearenergy.htm#advantage http://www.ccsa.asn.au/nic/UMining/Envimpact.htm www.environmentalchemistry.com/org/net www.anawa.org.au/introduction/ www.anawa.org.au/chain/ Southwest Encyclopedia Volume 1 Encarta Encyclopedia (CD-ROM) ...read more.

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