Yellowcake is the name for uranium ore in its raw state of uranium oxide. Miners named uranium ore yellowcake because of its yellow color and rough texture. Natural uranium is mined and then made into a concentrate containing about 85 percent uranium oxide. This ore is then sent to processing plants to be converted for use in reactors. Tailings are the waste products of this process and discharge radon-222 gas into the air. This gas, as well as the presence of thorium-230, makes these wastes dangerous for handlers. Uranium miners have long suffered health problems in the mining and processing of yellowcake. The most common and deadly health problem is lung cancer from inhaling radon. In October 1995 the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments recommended that the strict requirements for proving radon-induced lung cancer for uranium miners be loosened to include all yellowcake miners suffering from the disease.
Yucca Mountain Waste Disposal Site
The Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been selected by the U.S. government as its preferred site for nuclear waste storage for highly radioactive materials. In 1957 the National Academy of Sciences recommended that high-level nuclear waste be buried in a safe area. In the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), the Department of Energy (DOE) was given the task to select a number of potential nuclear waste sites for consideration. Yucca Mountain was picked as one of three sites. In the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987, Congress mandated that only the Yucca Mountain site be