Speed Reads

Johnsplaining

John Oliver has some good reasons you should be frightened, frustrated at America's nuclear waste problem

Nuclear waste "is a serious health hazard, and America has a lot of it," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "And you may live closer to nuclear waste than you think." For decades, America has known it needs a safe place to store this nuclear waste — one expert in 1990 compared America's nuclear situation to a house built without a toilet — and that was Oliver's focus on Sunday: "Why do we not have a nuclear toilet?"

On one level, this is easy to understand, he said, because in World War II the U.S. rushed to create atomic weapons to defeat the Nazis, "who — fun fact — pretty much all Americans agreed were bad at the time." He ran through some of the bad-to-horrifying solutions America came up with in early days of nuclear waste, and noted how some of the improperly stored waste has sickened people and created radioactive alligators, among other problems. Luckily, the U.S. government and scientific community came up with a solution 60 years ago. Unfortunately, the envisioned facility for the worst waste still hasn't been built.

For more on why America hasn't buried its nuclear waste yet, how much we're spending on the Hanford site in Washington State, and how little things have changed in 40 years, plus a running gag about a terrifying American Girl doll, watch below. (Yes, there is NSFW language throughout.) Peter Weber