Ill give you a slightly long answer. I am going to
assume that when you say nuclear atoms, you mean
radioactive material that can be used in a nuclear
First you should know that radioactivity is all
around you and occurs naturally and is called
background radiation. It makes up ~80% of
the radiation you will probably see in your life.
Bananas and table salt substitute are all slightly
radioactive for instance. Just not enough to make
a power plant work. I am not entirely sure, but I
believe when they are mining Uranium for instance
they do not even need to wear much protective
gear. After they have purified it into rods and
make it ready for a nuclear power plant, then they
have to be more careful.
Each nuclear power plant produces about a
soda can in size of high level radioactive waste
to provide one person electrical usage for 70
years. This high level radioactive material is
contained in thick, welded shut, steel barrel
contains at various sites that are constantly
being checked for leaks. My understanding is that
they fill the container with gases which further
protect anyone walking around outside. Typically
these barrels are further placed in thick concrete
rooms to provide further radiation protection. The
main problem with nuclear power plant waste is
that you have to store that soda can for thousand
and thousands of years.
They currently want to place all of this high
level radioactive material in a mountain in
Nevada. Almost everyone likes this idea (including
me), except for those who actually live in Nevada.
Well, we will have to wait and see what happens.
Nuclear power plants also produce low-level
radioactive waste, that takes up around a 1000
times as much volume. This is stuff like water,
air filters, pipes, and mops that can trap some
radioactive material. This material is almost
always just buried 20 feet under the ground and
allowed to decay until it is no longer
I hope this answers you question.
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