Nuclear waste comes in many different forms, one of which is heat waste. Water is often used as a insulator to keep nuclear power plants from overheating. However, in doing so the water gets heated up. This superheated water can be used to turn steam powered turbines but eventually the water is cycled back into the environment. The water is not usually radioactive but the increase in heat that is sent back into the environment can destroy temperature sensitive habitat.
The water cycle is the main route radiation takes in our environment. It typically gets into our water through improper disposal or through a leak in the cooling tower used by power plants. Once radioactive waste enters the water, it begins to kill wildlife as well as vegatation in the area. Humans drink the water and eat the animals and plants effected by the waste. Once the water is contaminated, it takes a considerable amount of time for the radiation to degrade. For instance, a plastic bottle is a type of low-level waste, and the average time it takes for the bottle to biodegrade is about 1,000 years.
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