Ray Cats, Artificial Moons and the Atomic Priesthood: How the Government Plans to Protect Our Nuclear Waste

The United States has an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico containing 2 million cubic feet of radioactive materials (so far). It is scheduled to be sealed up in the year 2070. But... nuclear waste will be dangerous for about 10,000 years. How will we warn people about the danger of the area so far into the future? A panel of experts was assembled to brainstorm ideas about how to communicate with humans thousands of years from now, when it's likely they won't have our technology, language, or customs. As you would expect from a brainstorming session, some of the ideas proposed were quite bizarre. Read about them at mental_floss. Link


Newest 4
Newest 4 Comments

In Onkalo (Finland) where there is another nuclear waste dump being built, experts have yet taken a decision : they will try to spread myths about the place, trying to convince future generations that this is not a place to enter.

If you want to learn more, a MOVIE has been done about that place : google "Into Eternity".
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
What hubris.

As long as we can safely warn people for the next 100 or so years (which we can, since we currently understand pretty much all the languages of the 1900's) we're good. After that - it's up to that current era to decide how best to pass forward that info (since they will know far better then us, how to do so).
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
As long as our civilization remains extant or archaeologists remain interested in studying us it should be ok.

There ought to be signs in English and Spanish because those are our national languages. Add signs in Hebrew and Arabic because Jews and Muslims will most likely be around for awhile, and Christian scholars also study Hebrew. Add Hindi and Sanskrit because of our large non-Resident Indian population and thousands of years of scholarly interest in Sanskrit. Add Chinese signs because Chinese writing is graphic and based more on meaning than on phonetics. Finally, add picture signs showing the location of the material and the fact that it gives off rays that will kill people.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
We have an example of how effective such warnings are: Associated Press - Tsunami-hit towns forgot warnings from ancestors. Centuries-old stone markers are scattered across Japan's coast, warning that earthquakes are followed by tsunami, and marking where buildings will be vulnerable. Some towns followed the warnings, and built homes only on high ground. Others ignored these warning stones. This is in a country where earthquakes and accompanying tsunami are pretty frequent!

More relevant is the frequency of incidents where radioactive metals find their way into scrap metal. Medical equipment containing radioactive Cobalt or Cesium sometimes ends up in junkyards after they are decommissioned. These devices are then disassembled, and the parts sold as scrap, including the radioactive 'source'. The scrap is sometimes melted down and mixed with steel to make reinforcing bars (rebar) for construction. Many incidents of this type are documented at Wikipedia. The contaminated rebar is sometimes intercepted before it is used in buildings, but sometimes it is not detected until long after installation. An apartment building in Taiwan, along with other buildings, is still being rented to tenants in spite of being built with radioactive rebar.

Radiomedical devices are clearly marked, and the containers for the radioactive 'source' material are built to be durable and are themselves well-marked with the familiar nuclear-trefoil. In spite of this, salvage of radioactive metals still occurs in many countries, resulting in the deaths of scrap-metal collectors, foundry workers and others. This is not an issue for untold generations in the future: we cannot even protect people today. Last year, radioactive rebar was found being used in India, and Mexican radioactive rebar was detected in a California scrap-metal facility.

Time to get those glow-in-the-dark cats up and running!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.


Email This Post to a Friend
"Ray Cats, Artificial Moons and the Atomic Priesthood: How the Government Plans to Protect Our Nuclear Waste"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
 
Learn More