News & Resources
02/1/17

Study: ‘Permanence’ in Waste Removal Is a Real Concern

A study by the Veolia Institute highlights the importance of proper waste removal, particularly if it’s nuclear. Areas like the Hanford Site in Washington State are considered “atomic cities” that deserve this attention.

Nuclear Plant
Remediating the effect of hazardous waste on the environment is never a finished practice. And although it shouldn’t stop communities from managing their waste, new research by the Veolia Institute suggests it should affect how it’s treated.

“While pollutants may be ‘cleaned up’ in a particular area, the hazardous or toxic substance itself will continue to endure in time, which means remediation becomes an exercise in shifting materials in space rather than eliminating harm altogether,” according to Carmella Gray-Cosgrove, author of the publication.

The study, titled “The Challenges of Temporality to Depollution & Remediation,” reports on the United States nuclear waste inventory as a storied initiative to ensure radioactive land isn’t forgotten even if residuals were disposed of. The Hanford Site, for example, is known as an “atomic city,” and releases plutonium that makes depollution difficult over long periods of time. American satellites carry power units that can do the same if they burn up in the atmosphere.

These materials require constant treatment and reallocation to ensure their environmental footprint is minimized long after an event has ended.

Read the full study here, and learn more about the storied Hanford Site on Planet North America.