A study by the Veolia Institute highlights the importance of proper waste removal, particularly if it’s nuclear. Areas like the Hanford Site in Washington State are considered “atomic cities” that deserve this attention.
“While pollutants may be ‘cleaned up’ in a particular area, the hazardous or toxic substance itself will continue to endure in time, which means remediation becomes an exercise in shifting materials in space rather than eliminating harm altogether,” according to Carmella Gray-Cosgrove, author of the publication.
The study, titled “The Challenges of Temporality to Depollution & Remediation,” reports on the United States nuclear waste inventory as a storied initiative to ensure radioactive land isn’t forgotten even if residuals were disposed of. The Hanford Site, for example, is known as an “atomic city,” and releases plutonium that makes depollution difficult over long periods of time. American satellites carry power units that can do the same if they burn up in the atmosphere.
These materials require constant treatment and reallocation to ensure their environmental footprint is minimized long after an event has ended.