8 – Effects of Nuclear Testing on the Environment

Nuclear Testing

Someone once rightly pointed out that there was enough in this world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed. The greed for more has led to so many wars throughout history. Billions of lives have been lost and new mechanisms have been invented to cause more destruction than before in the wars. Nuclear weapon is easily the deadliest among the lot and can cause destruction previously unthinkable for humans. The usage of nuclear weapons in war thankfully has been rather limited and it has been used only once on the twin Japanese cities. However the testing goes on to work as a nuclear deterrence and this effect of nuclear testing is our topic of discussion in this article today. The massive environmental damage due to these tests needs to find its way to you.

List of the effect of nuclear testing

  1. An increased risk of cancer:
    An increased risk of cancer
    Any sort of nuclear testing implies a certain amount of radioactivity in that region. With prolonged exposure to such harmful radioactivity there is a heightened risk of humans getting affected by several types of cancer such as lung, liver, breast or thyroid. While the affecting period varies depending upon the distance from the radiation site or the half life of the radioactive material used, the chances of those exposed to such radiation is indeed a serious concern.

  2. The affected atmosphere:  Almost 90% of the tests take place in the Northern hemisphere as a result of which there is a substantial presence of radioactive isotopes. Some of the major nuclear power plant accidents also took place in the Northern Hemisphere such as the Fukushima disaster which caused severe environmental damage.  An atmosphere in such dangerous condition does put to question the validity of the effect of nuclear testing by the nuclear powers of the world.

  3. The damage to coral reefs:
    The damage to coral reefs
    Coral reefs are important determiners of the marine health. There are several causes for the increasing damage to the coral reefs over the years. One of the most important causes is the effect of nuclear testing. The scientific missions to observe Moruroa however gives a different story altogether. Although the French Authorities claim that the nuclear tests have been stopped the other observations of the effects put across an entirely different story. This is an alarming study and it is high time that it is addressed because the coral reef is extremely important for the marine eco system stability.

  4. Occurrence of Tsunamis landslides and earthquakes: It is an open secret that many such incidents have occurred in history. A country tested nuclear weapons and in the process something went wrong resulting in terrible cases of landslides or tsunamis. No government initially acknowledged it but eventually it was all out in the open and there was no point in their denial. Tuamoto Archipelago for instance was battered with such a manmade disaster due to the effect of nuclear testing conducted by the French. What was initially planned to be conducted 800m underground was allowed to occur at just 400m depth and this resulted in this catastrophic incident when several were injured.

  5. Poisoning of fish and other marine creatures:
    Poisoning of fish
    A large population of the world is dependent on fish consumption and thus indirectly this even affects humans. While in Ciguatera there have been instances of fish being poisoned due to underwater testing of nuclear weapons, there are other cases as well. Even if the fish do not die and are merely contaminated with radioactive material their consumption can prove to be fatal for the humans. The threat has to be thus realized at the earliest and steps have to be taken to implement CTBT as well as possible. Banning of nuclear tests can be the only solution to problems resulting from the testing in the first place.

  6. Venting of fission products which are volatile: One terrible effect of nuclear testing is the occurrence of venting. Some findings such as iodine 131 found in marine organisms are in fact indicative of that. The Cousteau mission in 1987 is the time when this incident first came to light. Since then there have been multiple such occasions when it seemed like a clear possibility. It is indeed a serious threat to the environment.

  7. Leakage of fission products:
    Nuclear Testing
    Fission products are being leaked into the biosphere as a part of the harmful effect of nuclear testing. There again are enough examples to suggest that it indeed is the case and it is time to put an end to such unfortunate experiences due to the testing of nuclear bombs.

Final words

Now that you know about the harmful effects you surely realize that it is high time such tests were put to rest. Even underwater testing is unsafe and creates a lot of misbalances in the water bodies. CTBT needs to be implemented at the earliest and it needs to be done globally to build a world guided by peace and not by weapons of mass destruction.

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