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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(7), 700; doi:10.3390/ijerph13070700

Emerging Environmental Justice Issues in Nuclear Power and Radioactive Contamination

1
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX 78539, USA
2
School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jayajit Chakraborty, Sara E. Grineski and Timothy W. Collins
Received: 10 May 2016 / Revised: 28 June 2016 / Accepted: 6 July 2016 / Published: 12 July 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [480 KB, uploaded 12 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

Nuclear hazards, linked to both U.S. weapons programs and civilian nuclear power, pose substantial environment justice issues. Nuclear power plant (NPP) reactors produce low-level ionizing radiation, high level nuclear waste, and are subject to catastrophic contamination events. Justice concerns include plant locations and the large potentially exposed populations, as well as issues in siting, nuclear safety, and barriers to public participation. Other justice issues relate to extensive contamination in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, and the mining and processing industries that have supported it. To approach the topic, first we discuss distributional justice issues of NPP sites in the U.S. and related procedural injustices in siting, operation, and emergency preparedness. Then we discuss justice concerns involving the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and the ways that uranium mining, processing, and weapons development have affected those living downwind, including a substantial American Indian population. Next we examine the problem of high-level nuclear waste and the risk implications of the lack of secure long-term storage. The handling and deposition of toxic nuclear wastes pose new transgenerational justice issues of unprecedented duration, in comparison to any other industry. Finally, we discuss the persistent risks of nuclear technologies and renewable energy alternatives. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental justice; U.S. commercial nuclear power plants; radioactive contamination; nuclear weapons; uranium mining; American Indians; nuclear energy ethics environmental justice; U.S. commercial nuclear power plants; radioactive contamination; nuclear weapons; uranium mining; American Indians; nuclear energy ethics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kyne, D.; Bolin, B. Emerging Environmental Justice Issues in Nuclear Power and Radioactive Contamination. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 700.

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