April 23, 2011

Sundance documentary: "Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare"

Sundance presented a slew of nice documentaries for Earth Day this year. I watched one the other night and it had a big effect on me. It's called "Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare". It's a French film about the problems posed by nuclear waste. If you get a chance to see it, please do. It'll rock your world. Here's a link to an article about the film.

I'm not going to run the whole thing down for you, but I do want to discuss one aspect of it. The videographers spoke to a group of French engineers who are trying to come up with a foolproof way to store nuclear waste. They are building a subterranean storage chamber deep underground. They located an ideal site in northern France where there is a tremendous, natural clay chamber deep in the Earth. Clay is a great substance for the storage of nuclear waste because it provides an effective barrier to moisture.

The thing that got me was something one of the engineers said. He spoke candidly about their fears and the factors they're trying to take into consideration in their plans. Here's the problem: the waste will have to remain sequestered for 200,000 years. As the engineer voiced his deep concerns about this time span, I got goosebumps.

He said the problem is that no society has ever lasted 200,000 years. None has come close. Therefore there is no assurance that the site would remain protected in the future. After all, whose responsibility would it be? They realized they couldn't even guarantee that knowledge of the site would continue into the future. Insane as it sounds, people might forget what's down there.

There are two ways of looking at this, the engineer said. If they put a marker above-ground that states what is buried there, it might help future humans to avoid the spot. But on the other hand, the marker might attract people to the site. They might dig down to the radioactive material, for whatever reason. They might not even understand that it's dangerous. We cannot predict the society -- or lack of one -- that will exist at some future date.

So even this well-considered plan seems dicey. And this is just one tiny project in one of many countries that have nuclear technology. The Earth already has so much toxic nuclear waste that this plan is not feasible on a grand scale -- and not everyone will be able to find a convenient clay deposit so far underground. In other words, looking at the big picture, this solves nothing.

The main problem is the tremendous span of time involved. We cannot manage any problem for 200,000 years, yet we are creating a problem that will exist for 200,000 years. What's wrong with this picture? And knowing this, how can we be possibly be expanding our use of nuclear power at this time? But that is exactly what's happening, here and in other countries. Do we have the right to endanger humanity's future for the next 200,000 years? The answer is obvious: no.

Nuclear power must end. It should never have been undertaken as a power generation scheme in the first place. It's not like scientists didn't know about the toxic by-products of nuclear reactors when industrial nations first started down this toxic road. But they did it anyway and they're continuing to do it now.

It's time to end the insanity. Nuclear power is anti-human, anti-Earth, anti-life and anti-future. We must call for an end to nuclear power now.


Anna Guess Pick said...

I don't get the Sundance channel but I will look for this on Netflix. Is that the title "Nuclear Underground"? I would like to see it.

writenow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
writenow said...

Sorry, I had it all wrong. The documentary is called "Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare". I changed it to the right title in the post, and included a link to an article about the film. Sorry. My brain is on slow today.