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Environmental Issues that impact the Western United States - Research Paper Example

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Environmental Issues that impact the Western United States Environmental Issues that impact the Western United States The call for protecting our environment is growing across the world because of the climate changes, atmospheric temperature rise and weather calamities…
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Environmental Issues that impact the Western United States
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Download file to see previous pages America is one of the prominent nuclear powers in the world and its nuclear power plants are generating immense nuclear wastes which are dumped into seas. Moreover, the fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides used to improve the agricultural yields, are polluting the soil and water. Western United States is a region which is facing big environmental problems as a result of visionless industrial and agricultural policies. This paper briefly analyses the environmental problems of Western America and provides some recommendations to overcome it. Environmental problems in western America Mining is one of the major activities which cause severe environmental problems in Western America. Mining started in America in the nineteenth century and western America is a region which is blessed with precious metals like gold and minerals. The gold rush in the nineteenth century resulted in the construction of rail, roads and other transportation means and many of the natural forests were destroyed. Some of the cities like Denver and Sacramento evolved as mining towns during this period. Contamination of soil and water, erosion, destruction of biodiversity etc were the outcomes of gold rush or mining. Mining is a process which requires the use of lot of chemicals to purify the metals and minerals mined out of the soil. These chemicals often pollute the soil and water. A scoping study conducted by the Western Governors' Association Mine Waste Task Force (1) collected the following statistics on inactive and abandoned mines (IAMs) by state: Arizona -- 80,000 IAM sites covering 136,653 acres, pollution 200 miles of surface waterways. California -- 2,484 IAM sites, 1,685 mine openings, and 578 miles of polluted streams. Colorado -- 20,299 mine openings and 1,298 miles of affected streams. Idaho -- 27,543 acres affected by IAMs. Missouri -- 7,655 IAM sites covering 48,175 acres, with 109 miles of affected streams. Montana -- 20,000 IAM sites covering 153,800 acres, with 1,118 miles of stream damage. New Mexico -- 25,320 acres and 69 miles of stream affected by IAMs. Oklahoma -- 26,453 acres affected by IAMs. Utah -- 25,020 acres affected by IAMs, with 83 miles of polluted streams. Of this total volume, approximately 85 percent is attributed to copper, iron ore, uranium, and phosphate mining and related activities. Approximately one-half of the waste generated is mining waste and one-third is tailings, with the balance consisting of dump/heap leaching wastes and mine water (Durkin and Herrmann, n. d) Even though mine waste problems affect the environment in numerous ways, acid mine drainage is the most serious problem arises as a result of mining. Mine wastes may engage in serious chemical reactions with other elements present in soil, rock water etc. For example, the major constituent of rock is ferrous sulphide which could be oxidized to form hydrogen ion when mine wastes react with it in the presence of water. Since hydrogen ions can easily react with water to form different types of acids, and thereby the acidity of the soil would be increased a lot. Acids have the ability to react with different types of metals and elements present in soil and water. In other worlds, when the acidity increases in the soil, lot of unwanted or poisonous materials can be generated. In short, mining indirectly pollute the water and the soil near the mining areas. The agriculture in Western United States mostly depends ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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