In the News: Radiation Affects the Homes of Both the Big... and the Small
Photo via: D. Fletcher
This week in the news, the mud dauber wasp and Navajo Indians are facing similar problems... radioactive homes.
Read on...Contaminated Navajo Homes
The EPA is planning to inspect, demolish, and rebuild any homes across the Navajo Nation (some 500 homes) tested positive for uranium contamination. It has been a long time coming for this project, as many Navajo have been living in these contaminated homes since the 1940's when uranium first began to be mined across the west. The extent of the mining ranged from parts of New Mexico, Arizona, on up through Utah.
The problem began when the Navajo Indians used scrap pieces of uranium ore and mill tailing from the mines to build their personal housing developments. This resulted in the unknowing contamination of many of their homes. To date, 27 out of the 117 homes tested so far have been deemed hazardous due to extreme levels of radiation.
The project is set to continued through the year 2012, where each year the EPA is prepared to spend up to $3 million to tear down each contaminated structure they find and rebuild a new one free of charge to the owner. It is estimated that each home should cost somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000 to demolish the property, properly dispose of the materials, and then construct a new building.
Contaminated Mud Dauber Wasp Homes
A very similar problem is also being experienced by the mud dauber wasps living near the cocooned H-Reactor in Northern Hanford. It seems the mud dauber wasps have unknowingly built their homes using the radioactive mud that was created during the demolition of the plant several years ago. The wasps had been living and breading in these homes for the past several years.
What sorts of genetic mutation the radioactive environment could have caused the next generation of wasps (if any) is unknown. Officials have already made an attempt to ease the minds of those spreading rumors of giant glowing wasps stealing children in the night, that these types of wasps are not known to travel far. They are basically contained for the most part within their own homes.
The plan is to dig up each of the nests spread across 75 acres and persuade the wasps to use non-radioactive mud instead. There will be no harm or inconvenience to them, as they rebuild new homes each year anyway. So it looks like the Navajo and wasps will be getting new, non-radioactive homes in the near future. It has taken a little over 5 years for the wasps and well over 20 for the Navajo... but I guess late is better than never!
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