Insurance companies began excluding nuclear events from coverage in the
late 1950s. Standard homeowners’ insurance policies now contain a nuclear
hazards clause excluding from coverage losses from nuclear events. So do
commercial and farm property policies, auto insurance policies and inland marine policies, among others. The nuclear
hazard clause means that if you discover that your property has radioactive
contamination when you go to sell it, you can’t file a claim with your
homeowner’s insurance. You would have to sue the entity that caused the
contamination to recover your losses. (1)

Risk or
danger to human health or the environment posed by radiation emanating from the
atomic nuclei of a given substance, or the possibility of an uncontrolled
explosion originating from a fusion or fission reaction of atomic nuclei.

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NUCLEAR
HAZARDS Radioactive substances are present in nature They undergo natural
radioactive decay in which unstable isotopes spontaneously give out Fast moving
particles, high energy radiations or both, at a fixed rate until a new stable
isotope is formed The isotopes release energy either in the form of Gamma rays
( high energy Electromagnetic radiation) Alpha particles & beta particles
(ionization particles) Alpha particles : fast moving positively charged
particles Beta particles: high speed negatively charged electrons These
ionization radiations have variable penetration power.(2)

 

NUCLEAR
HAZARDS Alpha particles can be interrupted by a sheet of paper Beta particles
can be blocked by a piece of wood or a few mm of aluminum sheet Gamma rays can
pass through paper and wood but can be stopped by concrete wall, lead slabs or
water Sources of radioactivity Natural sources Anthropogenic (man-made)
sources.(3)

 

The technical assessment
of the potential spread of radioactivity into the human environment is based on
an elaborate life-cycle analysis (LCA) from cradle to grave of the complete
system of industrial processes which makes nuclear power possible. This LCA
uncovered a number of uncertainties and unknowns of great importance with
respect to the viability and safety of nuclear power now and in the future. In
the first part of this study the present state of the nuclear energy system is
briefly described in connection with the potential pathways of radioactive
discharges. The analysis follows the course of events involving the mobilized
radioactivity and especially the human-made radioactivity. Adequate solutions
to immobilize and isolate the human-made radioactivity from the biosphere exist
only in cyberspace. All anthropogenic radioactivity ever generated is present
in mobile state within the human environment. The nuclear process chain is still
open ended. (4)

 

The
sources of radioactivity are both natural and man-made.

The
natural sources include:

Cosmic
rays from outer space. The quantity depends on altitude and latitude; it is
more at higher latitudes and high altitudes.

Emissions
from radioactive materials from the Earth’s crust. (5)

 

Man-made
sources include the nuclear wastes produced during mining and processing of
radioactive ores, use of radioactive in power plants, use of radioactive
isotopes in medical technology (X-ray machines, radioisotopes used in
medicine), industrial include wastes from 
nuclear reactors, research application: radioactive fallouts during
nuclear weapons testing, in a nuclear power plant, any leak or accident taking
place emit nuclear radiation, in either case it results in nuclear hazard,
nuclear tests conducted under the round or under oceans which also release
radiation, uranium mining and milling, nuclear reactors and reprocessing of
nuclear fuel cause nuclear pollution.(6)

The effects of radioactive pollutants
depend upon half-life, energy releasing capacity, rate of diffusion and rate of
deposition of the contaminant. Various atmospheric conditions and climatic
conditions such as wind, temperature and rainfall also determine their effects.

All organisms are affected from radiation
pollution, and the effects are extremely dangerous. The effects may be somatic
(individual exposed is affected) or genetic (future generations) damage. The
effects are cancer, shortening of life span and genetic effects or mutations.
Some of the possible effects are listed as under. (7)

Radiations may break chemical bonds, such as DNA
in cells. This affects the genetic make-up and control mechanisms. The effects
can be instantaneous, prolonged or delayed types. Even it could be carried to
future generations.

 Exposure
at low doses of radiations (100-250 rads), men do not die but begin to suffer
from fatigue, nausea, vomiting and loss of hair. But recovery is possible.

Exposure at higher doses (400-500 rads), the
bone marrow is affected, blood cells are reduced, natural resistance and
fighting capacity against germs is reduced, blood fails to clot, and the
irradiated person soon dies of infection and bleeding.

Higher irradiation doses (10,000 rads) kill the
organisms by damaging the tissues of heart, brain, etc.

Workers handling radioactive wastes get slow but
continuous irradiation and in course of time develop cancer of different types.
Through food chain also, radioactivity effects
are experienced by man.

But the most significant effect of radioactivity
is that it causes long range effects, affecting the future of man and hence the
future of our civilization. (8)

 

Laboratory
generated nuclear wastes should be disposed of safely and scientifically.                                                                             

Nuclear power
plants should be located in areas after careful study of the geology of the
area, tectonic activity and meeting other established conditions.

Appropriate
protection against occupational exposure.

Leakage of
radioactive elements from nuclear reactors, careless use of radioactive
elements as fuel and careless handling of radioactive isotopes must be
prevented.

Safety measure
against accidental release of radioactive elements must be ensured in nuclear
plants. (9)

Unless
absolutely necessary, one should not frequently go for diagnosis by x-rays.

Regular
monitoring of the presence of radioactive substance in high risk area should be
ensured.

Among the many
options for waste disposal, the scientists prefer to bury the waste in hundreds
of meters deep in the earth’s crust is considered to be the best safety long
term option. (10)