The Most Radioactive Place On Earth
What causes radioactivity?
Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of radiation. This is done by an unstable atomic nucleus that “wants” to give up energy to move to a less volatile state. Much of modern physics was devoted to determining why this occurs, resulting in nuclear decay being well understood by 1960. Keep reading this article by eurosocialfiscal to learn about the most radioactive place on earth.
Excessive numbers of neutrons in a nucleus emits a negative beta particle, which transforms one neutron into a proton. Too many protons in the nucleus cause an electron (positron) to be formed, changing one proton into a neutron. When extra energy is available, a nucleus emits gamma radiation, discharging massive amounts of energy but not changing any of the nuclei’s particles. When its mass is too high, an alpha particle is emitted from the nucleus (discarding four hefty particles: two protons and two neutrons).
How Can A Place Become Radioactive?
If a radioactive element is present in a rock or other material, then the radiation from that source can have several effects. The first of these is one of the uranium’s most exciting properties: it decays into thorium and a couple of other elements at a vastly accelerated rate by heat. All those wonderful old houses with their beautiful fireplaces were built from uranium. This also explains why heating granite rocks will make them radioactive.
Any matter which has been powerfully heated becomes radioactive as it cools down. This means an oven will become slightly radioactive as you use it for cooking food. However, nothing serious happens because the energy emitted during cooking is negligible compared to the everyday background radiation we are all exposed to.
But moving away from heating for a moment, let’s consider the situation of a nuclear reactor. If either fuel rods or the cooling water in the reactors becomes too hot, they will emit high-energy gamma rays. These can kill people and damage machinery if they can escape into the environment around the plant. This is why access to a reactor building is very carefully controlled by armed guards who have been briefed on just how dangerous radiation is.
Can Radioactivity Harm You?
Yes. If you receive a dose of radiation that is high enough, then it can kill or seriously damage your body. A typical example of this is the gamma-ray given off by smoke detectors. The tiny amount of Americium-241 in these devices emits just enough gamma radiation to ionize the air around it, creating an electric current that triggers the alarm if anything interrupts it.
Another example is much more sinister: spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors are highly radioactive. They have to be stored securely for many years before they are safe enough to use them again as fuel rods in another reactor. The danger comes from their strong gamma emissions and the continual emission of alpha particles, which are usually stopped by skin but may lodge in internal organs. However, this is just a matter of not being close enough to the source for very long.
Radiation sickness is another example of the devastating effects that radiation can have on your body. If you are exposed to enough radioactive particles, some may lodge in your cells and damage them permanently, which causes all kinds of problems later on down the line. This can be so severe that you will die within days or weeks after exposure if you do not get help from someone who knows what they are doing! Unfortunately, it is impossible to treat this condition using anything humane because the radiation would rapidly destroy all our medical equipment before it could ever have any effect at all.
What Is The Most Radioactive Place On Earth?
The most radioactive places on the planet have been exposed to many years of nuclear bombardment from either natural or artificial radioactivity. In this category come parts of Russia and China and the surrounding areas that used to be part of the USSR. To present you an idea of just how wrong these places are: if a brave person were to stand in one spot for about half an hour, they would receive enough radiation from killing them before they could leave the area!
Another most radioactive place on earth and where it is dangerous even to approach is Chernobyl, Ukraine – the site of the infamous failed reactor experiment back in 1986. Although all those present died within days after horrifically painful radiation sickness, their legacy was very much alive and well: tens of thousands of people have since been permanently displaced by the plant, and many more have since died from cancer as a result of their exposure to high levels of radiation.
In terms of natural radioactivity, it is hard to fault anywhere other than our planet’s very own hot spot: The Oklo Reactor. In 1972, French scientists discovered a fantastic thing about this particular region: they were naturally radioactive! Even weirder, they found that this radioactivity was caused by ancient uranium deposits, which had long ago reached critical mass and begun to sustain a nuclear reaction – like our Sun!
Here Are A Few Of The Most Radioactive Places On Earth
1. Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, Japan
This nuclear power plant has four reactors, and in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, all four suffered a severe meltdown. However, there was no loss of life. As a result, every part of this power plant is still highly radioactive and dangerous even years later in 2016. The radiation levels in some parts of this building are so high that entry must be restricted to robots only!
2. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine
After the failed experiment in 1986, one of the worst nuclear accidents ever recorded was the scene. Still highly radioactive years later, nobody has yet been able to enter many parts of this building due to it being one of the most radioactive place on earth or even approach it closely enough to see the damage that was done. Currently, several robots are being used to study the area from a safe distance, with some good results.
3. Yangjiang Nuclear Power Plant, China
Relatively new construction compared to most of its competitors worldwide, this nuclear power plant has three reactors. It is situated on a site that was once a coal-burning power plant. Although built to use nuclear power, this building is less sensitive to radiation than any other in China. Even if one reactor failed, it would still be safer than most facilities!
4. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, Japan
This six-reactor complex is famous for being one of the most influential power plants globally and is currently Japan’s most significant such facility. However, all six reactors have been offline since an earthquake in 2007. It has not produced a single watt of its advertised 15.7 GW capacity ever since. The cause for this outage? An earthquake that measured 6.8 on the Richter scale!
5. Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant, England
Another nuclear power plant situated on the coast was initially constructed for military use but has since been used to generate electricity for the UK. The reactors were upgraded in 2008 and again in 2013 to increase resilience against natural disasters after a massive fire caused parts of the facility to be flooded by seawater. It is located close to the Irish Sea, so it may be potentially vulnerable to being flooded!