Save the Earth and its Metals

By: Maxime Richardson

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Save the Earth's Metals!

The Earth's metals are very important to our everyday lives, for example, we use them for our computers, in our cell phones, in our microwaves, silverware, and even planes. Ranging from iron, platinum, and gold, the Earth's metals are everywhere. Now people are starting to realize that our metals will not support our current needs and are being used up too fast, also called a nonrenewable resource. Examples of nonwenable resources are fossil fuels, crude oil, gas, coal, and nuclear fuels.

Environmental Concerns

Some metals that we use can be recycled, but others can be radioactive, or poisonous. By disposing of radioactive or poisonous metals in different places, these metals can kill trees, animals, and bacteria living there. Radioactive metals are also used in nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, which can destroy many cities, forest, contaminate water sources, and cause harm to the environment around them.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had six separate reactors designed by General Electric, or GE, and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO. At the time of the earthquake, reactors four, five, and six were shut down to prepare to re-fuel, but their fuel pools still required cooling. Immediately after the earthquake, the electricity producing reactors one, two and three automatically shut down their sustained fission reactions. Following this legal safety measure stops the reactors’ normal running conditions. The reactors were unable to generate power to run their own coolant pumps, so emergency diesel generators turned on to power the electronics and coolant systems, all of which operated well until the tsunami destroyed the generators for reactors one through five. The two generators cooling reactor six were undamaged and were sufficient to be pressed into service to cool the neighboring reactor five along with their own reactor, avoiding overheating issues that reactor four suffered.


The tsunami arrived one hour after the earthquake. The 13-meter-tall wave overwhelmed the plant's seawall, which was 10 meters high. Water quickly flooded the lower levels which included the emergency generators. The flooded diesel generators failed after the tsunami hit, resulting in a loss of power to the critical coolant water pumps. These pumps must continuously circulate water through the Generation II reactor for several days to keep the fuel rods from melting, as the fuel rods continued to generate decay heat. The fuel rods will become hot enough to melt during the fuel decay time period if an adequate heat sink is not available. After the second emergency pumps, which were run by back-up electrical batteries. They ran out one day after the tsunami, and on March 12th, 2011, the water pumps stopped and the reactors began to overheat. The lack of coolant eventually led to meltdowns in reactors one, two, and three.


There have been no deaths linked to exposure to radiation reported due to the meltdown, but about 18,500 people died because of the earthquake and tsunami. One estimate of the total human deaths from the nuclear accident is up to 10,000 in the future due to cancer. In addition, the rates of physical stress among evacuated people rose five times compared to the Japanese average due to the experience of the disaster and evacuation.

They Come From The Fiery Heart Of The Cosmos - Heavy Metals Documentary - National TV

Definitions

  1. Natural resource: materials or substances such as minerals, forest, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain.
  2. Nonrenewable resource: a nonrenewable resource is a resource of economic value that cannot be replaced by nature as fast as it is being used.
  3. Renewable resource: a renewable resource is a resource that is being replenished quicker than it is being used.
  4. Inexhaustible resource: an inexhaustible resource is a resource that cannot run out.

Extra Definitions

  1. Radioactivity - the process by which the nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting radiation, including alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and conversion electrons.
  2. Recycle - to reuse
  3. Nuclear power - the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant.