Sterling: Radioactive waste cover-up

In a world where climate change is increasingly threatening to the general public, one would think that pollutants such as radioactive waste would be properly regulated. Think again. From 2016 to 2019, approximately two million pounds of illegal waste were dumped in an Arlington, Oregon landfill from the Bakken oil field. 

Chemical Waste Management illegally accepted this waste in the midst of a global environmental crisis. In 1980, Oregon outlawed the burning of various types of radioactive waste in the state. Yet, this absurd amount of misrepresented waste made its way to the Oregon landfill where it now poses severe human health and environmental risks. To make matters worse, those involved in transporting and storing the toxic waste received little to no punishment for their atrocious actions. This crime against nature and Oregonians will seemingly go unpunished, which sets a precedent for such an act to happen again. 

Banning of fracking, the extraction of natural gas from the earth, should have happened years ago, but the same can be said for all  the top contributors to the environmental crisis. This particular instance of dumping was yet another preventable environmental tragedy that sent a message to the rest of the world — We do not care about climate change or the conservation of precious lands and resources. 

Oregon is supposedly a progressive, environmentally friendly state, but these labels are worth less than the thin layer of dirt covering millions of pounds of radioactive waste.

The detrimental impacts of Oregon’s first case of illegal radioactive waste dumping add to the severity of the climate crisis. Chemical Waste Management lazily accepted this particular type of waste without examining it thoroughly. This lack of caution and concern is the opposite attitude needed in times of climate catastrophe.

Radioactive waste is extremely toxic and can remain in an environmental ecosystem for thousands of years. The short-term nature of the various organizations involved in this incident is a sign of an administration that will continue to value money and unsustainable economic growth over  natural resources.