Much-Needed Water in Nevada is Radioactive

Over forty years, the federal government exploded almost a thousand nuclear warheads under the Nevada desert. Radiation leeched into the aquifers, in a region with a growing population and a water crisis.

From the Los Angeles Times:

""It is one of the largest resource losses in the country," said Thomas S. Buqo, a Nevada hydrogeologist. "Nobody thought to say, 'You are destroying a natural resource.' "

In a study for Nye County, where the nuclear test site lies, Buqo estimated that the underground tests polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water. That is as much water as Nevada is allowed to withdraw from the Colorado River in 16 years -- enough to fill a lake 300 miles long, a mile wide and 25 feet deep."

Full Story: Nuclear scars: Tainted water runs beneath Nevada desert

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Refuge: An Unnatural History of Time and Place

Terry Tempest Williams talks about the environmental health impacts of the above ground nuclear tests in the SW in her book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Time and Place. She chronicles the cancers that beset her relatives following the testing. Radiation arguably blanketed N. American during this period.

This is a concern regarding new uranium mining for nuclear power in the SW.

States such as NY and PA now have to contend with hydraulic fracturing, a method of gas extraction that entails the blasting of toxic solvents (in addition to water and sand) into rock to release the natural gas. This can contaminate entire communities and some oppose it entirely in watersheds.

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