26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

March 6, 2018 by  
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Located on the Arizona – Utah border, Lake Powell serves the drinking water needs of 40 million people in the Southwest while welcoming over 3 million recreational visitors every year. However, what lies beneath may give pause to those who depend on the lake. OZY reports that silt on the lake bed covers 26,000 tons of radioactive waste. A remnant from the mid-century uranium boom in the American West, the radioactive stockpile is not thought to be particularly dangerous. Still, even trace amounts can increase the risk of anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and cancer, dangers which become potentially more active if Lake Powell suffers an extended drought. At the moment, Lake Powell seems safe. “The uranium mill tailings produce a sandy waste that contains heavy metals and radium, which is radioactive , but these tailings have been down there since around the 1950s, with several feet of sediment placed over top of them and the water used as a moderator, or a shield,” Phil Goble, uranium mill and radioactive materials section manager for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told OZY . However, the radioactive waste is not entirely benign, particularly if conditions change. “The tailings could potentially become a problem if Lake Powell gets to a very, very low water level or if the lake is drained, and the tailings are exposed,” Goble said. “In this case, if someone were to dig down and expose those tailings, or the wind blows them, or people use the spot for recreational use of off-road vehicles, then there could be a health hazard.” Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake Lake Powell is a manmade lake carved from the surrounding red rock canyon and has not been completely full since the late 1990s. In the early years of the 2000s, it suffered a serious drought in which water levels dropped nearly 100 feet, or one-fifth of the lake’s full depth. Given the increased threat of climate change-related drought, it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Lake Powell’s water level drops enough to expose the radioactive waste to the surface environment. In the meantime, scientists are monitoring the lake while locals are encouraged to keep drinking from and playing in the beautiful body of water . Via OZY Images via Deposit Photos and Deposit Photos

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26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

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