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Radioactive waste in Cook Strait

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New Zealand has a large amount of radioactive waste in our water and scientists are worried about the effect on our marine environments.

In the 1960s and 70s, New Zealand had a big problem: how to get rid of radioactive waste, which mainly came from medical stuff like old equipment and materials.

Instead of keeping it on land, they decided to put it deep in the ocean, especially around Lyttelton Harbour and Cook Strait. They made sure to pack the waste in concrete and steel drums so it wouldn’t leak out.

People back then thought this was a safe way to handle it, and the government agencies agreed, saying it wouldn’t harm people or sea life. They even checked with experts to find the best spots in the ocean to put this waste.

But, as time went by, the whole world started to think differently about dumping waste in the ocean. By the early 70s, a big meeting led to rules that said you couldn’t just dump the most dangerous waste in the sea anymore. And by 1983, they decided even the less dangerous stuff shouldn’t be dumped.

So, New Zealand stopped putting radioactive waste in the ocean and started keeping it in a safe place in Christchurch.

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