Damage from Uranium Mining and Nuclear Waste All nuclear weapons and most nuclear reactors ultimately require the mining of uranium ore. In the past, when mining was poorly regulated, hazardous waste from mines in the United States, Australia, and the former Soviet Union was not disposed of in a responsible fashion. Since then, huge sums have been spent on cleanup operations and underground storage. Some local indigenous peoples have resented mining operations in the American West and remain concerned about consequences to their health. The Hanford Nuclear Site lies in a deserted area of the Columbia River basin in Washington State. At one time it was the largest facility for plutonium production in the world, but these activities ceased in 1987. Photograph by Kazuma Momoi. Top: Church Rock mine in New Mexico yielded millions of tons of uranium ore until it closed in 1982. Workers are shown drilling holes in which explosives were placed to break up the rock. Photograph by Hiromitsu Toyosaki. Left: This Navajo woman lost her husband, a uranium mine worker. She is pictured in Red Rock, Arizona. Photograph by Hiromitsu Toyosaki.