Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Russian Yellow Cake Uranium Unit 7

It is a wide known fact that, next to the United States, Russia is in possession of the largest largest nuclear stockpile in the world. There have been significant measures taking by the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of their warheads. However, Russia's system for disposal and storage of this nuclear material is not as efficient and secure as many of us would like. In fact, some of the yellow cake uranium (the kind used for nukes) can be accessed by simply breaking a padlock on an old chain-link fence and walking across an open field with no concern about detection.
Although there have been no successful attempts for terrorists to access or build a nuclear weapon yet (that we know of), there have been many close calls and many seizures of yellow cake uranium that were purchased on the black market. Every one of these seizures has been traced back to Russia (Countdown to Zero). Although Russia has managed to somewhat limit the smuggling of this nuclear material through border checks, it is apparent that they cannot control it. Who could blame people for trying to make a quick fortune when it is as easy as walking into an old shack and taking a few kilos (about the size of a football) of the most potentially dangerous substance in the world? Not to mention the fact that an amount that small, if concealed in a led container, is less detectable than any drug.
Not only is this material very lucrative and destructive to human life but it is also harmful to the environment. Uranium is highly radioactive; it has a variety of adverse effects on the environment and it decays very slowly. The United States has a sophisticated system of storage and transport of nuclear waste and we still consider ourselves at risk. Russia literally has uranium sitting in old northern ship yards and in military bases that are located in cities. Not only is this bad for citizens' health and the environment, but if an accident were to happen, it would be the end of the line for anything within at least five miles of the blast! Not to mention the health problems caused from the ensuing nuclear fallout.
Russia needs a change. They need to develop a secure and efficient system for disposal and storage of nuclear waste. The last thing anybody needs is for terrorists to develop nuclear technology or for a terrible accident to wreck the population and further damage the environment for decades to come.

No comments: