Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | June 4, 2010

Banning nuclear explosions protects the environment

The end of nuclear explosions will make a tremendous contribution to protecting the environment. Over 2000 nuclear tests were carried out on our planet from 1945 and the environmental consequences were devastating. Here are some s examples:

  • Nevada: over 900 nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site, most of which were underground. Radioactive contamination of the area remains to this day, both in the soil and the water table. Although radiation levels decline over time, radioactivity of the water table in the worst affected areas prohibits consumption of water from it for thousands of years.
  • Bikini: although the last test on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands was in 1958, the former tropical paradise remains a wasteland. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) survey conducted in 1997 discouraged permanent resettlement of the Bikini Island because of radiological conditions.
  • Kazakhstan: over 450, mostly underground, nuclear tests were conducted here. They accelerated the process of desertification of the area which continues to this day. Radioactive contamination of the environment severely reduced economic activity in the area.
  • Muroroa: nuclear testing at this Pacific atoll caused the leakage of radioactive fission products into the ocean and the food chain. Testing also caused environmental damage, triggering landslides, tsunamis and earthquakes.

A legacy of testing

Some of the test sites have been abandoned with little or no environmental protection. Novoya Zemlya, in particular the surrounding Barents and Kara Seas, and the Mururoa Atoll are examples. Without effective management of the legacy of radioactive waste from the tests radioactive material is being released into the seas and into the ground, eventually ending up in the food chain.

Read the rest of the Highlight on the CTBTO Website.

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