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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Breaking The Cycle of Anti-nuclear Indoctrination -- Uranium Mine Tailings Argument

Above is a photo I took of a Toucan while I was in the Brazilian Cerrado. Not a birder, have no idea which species it is. I'm including because it brings me pleasure and as a reminder of why I blog about the environment.

Below is a collection of quotes from comments under a pro-nuclear article at Grist:
The "waste" problem from nuclear power isn't the "spent" fuel, it's the tailings piles from uranium mining ...Uranium tailings piles are even more toxic than coal or tar sands tailings piles, and they all leach into the environment ... The argument against coal ash is a more general environmental issue similar to some of the issues raised against nuclear. (mountains of radioactive tailings.) ...During early years of operation, mine tailings at this site were discharged onto a flat, low-lying area adjacent to the processing facility... 
Back in the day, long before the internet came along, uranium mine tailings were used (along with everything else they could think of) as an anti-nuclear argument. Many people are now indoctrinated with that misinformation and the internet is still full of articles echoing it, as indoctrination victims of indoctrination victims continue to carry the torch. That's how indoctrination works and why beliefs like creationism endure.

Bottom line?
  • Everything in your car, phone, and computer came from mines.
  • Uranium mining accounts for a tiny fraction of a single percent of all mining (1).
  • Uranium mining is no worse for the environment than the mining of any other metal (5).
  • Uranium is a heavy metal with similar toxicity to the (75 pounds of) lead found in in your car battery (3).
  • Uranium mine tailings are about as radioactive as your granite countertop, and less radioactive than the original ore (2) (5).
  • Old mine sites of all kinds are being cleaned up and returned either to a natural state or to a state safe to use for other purposes (4).
  • Environmental regulations now exist to prevent the repeat of environmentally damaging mining practices regardless of what is being mined (6).