FIRST PAGE!!!! I hope to get the second page if not next week– because of final exams– the week after when semester two starts up. Also i have a drawing test for Seneca’s animation program tomorrow so just a heads up if you don’t see me im probably ripping my own head off working on a bunch of portfolios for college. It’s fine i am having fun just drawing tbh. And one more thing, after i post 3 pages of this i will begin tagging this comic on my blog, ill be going back on this post to put Previous and Next links, and maybe ill start a comic archive on my blog page. things to watch out for.
Uranium disposal cells are unusual constructions because they are built to last far beyond the lives of most engineered structures, to isolate their radioactive contents from the environment for hundreds of years. They are generally low geometric mounds, sometimes as high as a hundred feet tall, covering a few acres or as much as a half mile, and composed of layers of engineered soil and gravels designed to shed rainwater and limit erosion, in order to take their contents, intact, away from the present and as far into the future as possible. Indeed, most of the radiation comes from uranium 238, which has a half life of 4.47 billion years, nearly the age of the earth itself. Many of the piles were made by contractors for the Department of Energy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the government took over handling the wastes left by companies, in some cases bankrupted by the process, or otherwise no longer existing or accountable. The government was the reason these sites existed in the first place, since in the early years of the industry they were the only customer for uranium–using it to build atomic bombs.
This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it’s leaking
The Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is a hulking legacy of years of US nuclear testing. Now locals and scientists are warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change could cause 111,000 cubic yards of debris to spill into the ocean
Black seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.
At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.
Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.
“Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.
“It resulted from US nuclear testing and the leaving behind of large quantities of plutonium,” he said. “Now it has been gradually submerged as result of sea level rise from greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries led by the United States.”
In total, 67 nuclear and atmospheric bombs were detonated on Enewetak and Bikini between 1946 and 1958 – an explosive yield equivalent to 1.6 Hiroshima bombs detonated every day over the course of 12 years.
The detonations blanketed the islands with irradiated debris, including Plutonium-239, the fissile isotope used in nuclear warheads, which has a half-life of 24,000 years.
Up to 200 feet of rotting garbage is slowly burning underground thanks to an uncontrolled fire at the Bridgeton Landfill outside St. Louis, resulting in a constant stench. But worse is the fire’s proximity to the neighboring 200-acre West Lake Landfill Superfund site full of radioactive waste from World War II-era nuclear bomb tests. Residents are calling on the EPA to do more, but it may be a complete no-win disaster.
some thoughts on nuclear waste storage and the difficulties of communicating with distant future civilizations
one of the things i wonder about the yucca mountain/WIPP project (see this post) is how much they considered the pure cussedness of human nature.
you know, the maybe-idiotic kind of curiosity that makes us look at a “KEEP OUT” sign and think, “hey, i wonder why they want us to Keep Out?” let’s take a look.
think about it. you get a bunch of geologists, sci-fi authors, archaeologists and linguists together, and tell them they have to invent a communication device that will still work in 10,000+ years. they need to create a warning that says, “DANGER: DO NOT GO HERE,” and it needs to make sense even after all of our current languages and cultures are dead.
this is already an incredibly difficult task. but aside from the problem of communicating to people in the dim and distant future, you need to create something that won’t inspire curiosity. it has to be sufficiently forbidding that it puts people off, without it turning into a heavily mythologised tourist attraction.
IMO this may be impossible. even if the warning signs DO work, then people will still be curious about why the location is dangerous. and if the markers DON’T work, then you run the risk of creating the next stonehenge. for example, a couple of the other suggested solutions involved “menacing earthworks” or gigantic spikes that would supposedly discourage people from entering the danger zone.
to me, the problem is this: the “spike field” is both frightening and appealing. it says, “what is so important that it needs to be hidden behind such a terrifying obstacle?” it’s like sleeping beauty and her thicket of thorns.
the solution they eventually agreed upon was to build a series of walls encircled by giant granite pillars. in the middle, above the storage location for the nuclear waste, is an information site with warning signs in pictograms, the six main languages of the UN, and Navajo.
while i think this is a decent enough plan, i can’t help but think of these circles of pillars and walls as… a target. a series of obstacles to be overcome before you reach the mysterious secret chamber in the middle, which a long-dead civilization was apparently desperate to protect. and once you reach the center of that target, you may find death… but you’ll also find a seven-language equivalent to the Rosetta Stone.