The COVID-19 pandemic has seen no end of U.S. rightwing politicians using the crisis as a veil behind which to push their own nefarious agendas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, has been silently rolling back precious regulations from the Obama Administration that protected our environment
from automobile emissions, mercury pollution from power plants, and fine particle air pollution -- the presence of which has been linked to higher coronavirus death rates.
Now, like something out of a horror film, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a limb of the federal government, is pushing a rule change that would allow radioactive waste to be buried in our backyards.This is unethical, dangerous, and will have ramifications for centuries. Please sign the petition and demand that the NRC abandon this rule change immediately!
The effects of radioactive waste on the human body are heartbreaking. Exposure to very high levels of radiation can literally burn the skin and respiratory tract, causing excruciating pain and nausea.
Lower levels of radiation kills healthy cells or mutates their DNA, turning them into aggressive cancer cells, and also has a high correlation to birth defects in babies. Unsurprisingly, lower income communities of color are much more likely to live near nuclear waste sites or plants, and are therefore much more likely to suffer the consequences of the industry's carelessness.
Nuclear waste is dangerous not only because of the negative health effects it can cause, but also because of how long it stays radioactive. Some of the most potent waste must be properly contained for one million years
to guarantee enough radioactive decay. Of course, this is one end of the extreme. Most nuclear waste sites work on a timeline of anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 years.
No matter the scenario, this harmful waste is not going anywhere anytime soon. So how could our leaders even consider placing it beneath our feet? In the ground where we plant our crops, where animals dig their homes, where plants grow their live-giving roots?
The rule change in question would allow "very low-level waste" to be dumped in landfills and buried underground. But the NRC doesn't even define how radioactive "very low-level waste" is, strongly suggesting that they will interpret the rule to their convenience and economic gain -- nuclear waste disposal of this nature is, of course, much cheaper than the methods that keep us safe."If you dump radioactive waste in places that aren't designed to deal with it, it comes back to haunt you. It's in the air you breathe, the food that you eat, the water you drink."
This warning from Dan Hirsch, president of a non-profit that aims to keep in check the nuclear industry, says it all. This rule comes with the price of human life and environmental loss that we can't afford.Sign the petition and tell the NRC to stop cutting corners and costs, and continue to dispose of nuclear waste in a way that will keep us and our planet safe and healthy.