Uranium Gallery

Ionizing radiation is energetic enough to break chemical bonds, thereby possession the ability to damage or destroy living cells. This results in cancer, damage to the unborn fetus for many generations, environmental toxicity, radiation sickness, cardiovascular disease, etc. I feel it is critical to learn about these effects especially because of suggestions that nuclear power/energy should be one of the solutions to eliminate global warming. Three years ago I did artwork relating to the very serious meltdown of three nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daichi Prefect in Japan.  It was after doing research about that multi-level nuclear catastrophe that I then decided to learn more about a source of nuclear energy, namely uranium. Uranium is the principal fuel for nuclear reactors and the main raw material for nuclear weapons.  Approximately 16 metric tons of refined uranium is used domestically each year — Canada being the largest single supplier. This radioactive metal is unique in that one of its isotopes, uranium-235, is the only naturally occurring isotope capable of sustaining a nuclear fission reaction.  Uranium is naturally radioactive: Its nucleus is unstable, so the element is in a constant state of decay, seeking a more stable arrangement. First discovered in the 18th century, uranium is an element found everywhere on Earth, but mainly in trace quantities. In 1938, German physicists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann showed that uranium could be split into parts to yield energy. Natural uranium consists of three isotopes: uranium-238, uranium-235, and uranium-234. Uranium isotopes are radioactive. The nuclei of radioactive elements are unstable, meaning they are transformed into other elements, typically by emitting particles (and sometimes by absorbing particles). This process, known as radioactive decay, generally results in the emission of alpha or beta particles from the nucleus. It is often also accompanied by emission of gamma radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation, like X-rays. Uranium and associated decay products thorium-230 and radium-226 will remain hazardous for thousands of years. Current U.S. regulations, however, cover a period of 1,000 years for mill tailings and at most 500 years for “low-level” radioactive waste. This means that future generations–far beyond those promised protection by these regulations–will likely face significant risks from uranium mining, milling, transporting and processing activities. Learn more about uranium at:  Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (http://www.ieer.org)