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*Some of you have purchased my lab book – be sure to check out Page 141 !
Current concerns are being raised about radioactive waste in a dump in St. Louis, Missouri, and the residents are protesting the federal government’s action (or lack of action) to contain and clean up this waste.
For some history:
“St. Louis' nuclear legacy dates to World War II, when uranium was processed here for America's first nuclear weapons. One landfill - named a Superfund cleanup site in 1990 -- houses illegally disposed nuclear residue from the Cold War era. The other, about 1,000 feet from the radioactive material, has a slow burn that has been smoldering for five years.”
“The Republic Services-owned West Lake Landfill was contaminated with radioactive waste from uranium processing by a St. Louis company known as Mallinckrodt Chemical. The waste was illegally dumped in 1973 and includes material dating to the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb in the 1940s.”
Here is an article providing a timeline of the concerns about this landfill:
It says: “… in early September , Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released nine reports about the landfills. One suggested the subsurface heating reaction — which people refer to as a fire — was moving north, toward the radioactive waste. Another said radiation had been detected in trees on private property outside the landfills' boundaries.”
One concern about the radioactive waste and fire is:
“Underground landfill fires produce potentially toxic gases, including carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, aldehydes, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and benzene ― a known carcinogen.”
There is also concern about this fire and the nuclear waste causing a release of radioactivity:
“Government officials have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially "catastrophic event" that could send up a plume of radioactive smoke over a densely populated area near the city's main airport.”
Moving the waste is not really an option because it may result in a release of radiation:
“A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, released Friday, warned that disturbing the surface of the landfill could release radium-226, radon-222 and radium-228 into the air and put landfill workers, in particular, at risk.”
Amidst these concerns, “A class action lawsuit has been filed against Mallinckrodt, the chemical processing firm that handled the nuclear material for the government. The group behind the lawsuit says there have been 2,700 cases of cancer around the creek. County health director, Dr. Faisal Khan, sees legitimacy in the claims.”
This is another current event that could be researched as Extra Credit, or students could research/discuss the issues around the event.
Here is another example of hazardous waste not properly contained and (1) later endangering the health of residents and (2) requiring an expensive clean-up. Another recent incident was the recent Colorado Mine Accident (blog post 8/13/2015).
It’s interesting that the waste is from The Manhattan Project and development of the atomic bomb in WWII. Perhaps you want to talk to the Social Studies teacher(s) at your school and find out if this situation is appropriate for discussion in their classes as well.
This Blog contains several entries that would be helpful to your chemistry classroom. Remember, you can check out the Topic List to help you to find past Blog entries.
The lab book Chemistry on a Budget is very useful to your Chemistry classroom with labs and class article ideas.
Also, Write To Me about your successes, challenges, or questions in the Chemistry Classroom.
Have a good weekend, and Happy Halloween!