Sunday, January 23, 2011

nuclear energy & art: into eternity

last week i saw a documentary by michael madsen called `into eternity'. let me cite from wikipedia:
Into Eternity is a feature documentary film directed by Michael Madsen.[1] It follows the digging and pre-implementation of the Onkalo nuclear waste repository in Olkiluoto, Finland. Director Michael Madsen is questioning Onkalo's intended eternal existence, addressing a remotely future audience. More importantly, this documentary raises the question of the authorities responsibility of ensuring compliance with relatively new safety criteria legislation and the principles at the core of nuclear waste management.[2]

Background information
This movie is the only full-length documentary about nuclear waste underground repository storage solution. The concept of long-term underground storage has been explored already from the 50's. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experimentations on copper corrosion in running groundwater flow.[3] Application for the implementation of spent nuclear fuel repository was submitted by Posiva Oy in 2001. The excavation itself started in 2004. With a total of 4 operable reactors providing 25% of the country energy supply, Finland ranks 16th in the world nuclear power reactors country list topped by USA (104 reactors), France (58 reactors) and Japan (54 reactors).


Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storage, which is vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and societal changes. In Finland, the world’s first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock – a huge system of underground tunnels – that must last the entire period the waste remains hazardous: 100,000 years.

Once the repository waste has been deposited and is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions? While gigantic monster machines dig deeper and deeper into the dark, experts above ground strive to find solutions to this crucially important radioactive waste issue to secure mankind and all species on planet Earth now and in the near and very distant future.

before talking about the artistic aspects, once again, dear reader, i wish to draw your attention to the ominous content of the documentary, and the enormous implications of our current involvement in nuclear energy.

i repeat from an earlier post: we are apes playing with fire. but even that is a weak metaphor. we are apes playing with Eternal Pollution, we are producing nuclear waste that will pollute our world for hundreds of thousands of years, and we DO NOT KNOW HOW TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM. we also have currently no nuclear waste storage facilities which will withstand natural disasters, so the problem is not only in the future, it is here and now. (and don't forget all the incidents that happen in nuclear plants, please don't think that they are safe because they aren't, we could easily have another chernobyl. and even if that could be addressed, what do you think the greatest nightmare of anti-terrorist agencies is?)

chernobyl radiation map 1996, cia factbook
radiation map of chernobyl in 1996, 10 years after the chernobyl disaster (image from the cia factbook, click on the image for an enlargement)

chernobyl seen from pripyat, 2007, jason minshull
chernobyl seen from the abandoned town of pripyat in 2007, 20 years after the chernobyl disaster (photo by jason minshull, click on the image for an enlargement)

[to be continued]

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