Cracking the “WIPP” on Waste

We as a global society produce a ton of waste. The amount of waste we produce daily is around 3.5 million tons. However this is mostly plastic and bio waste. Things that could very well be cleaned up and reduced if more people and organizations made a bigger effort to reuse and recycle their wastes.

But there is another kind of waste that isn’t so easy to dispose of. That being nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is primarily the byproduct of nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon research,  development and testing.

While the manufacturing of nuclear weapons is generally looked down upon by most citizens and the use of them even more so, they are still being researched and manufactured by many governments around the world. As a result, the nuclear waste they produce continues to grow.

Nuclear Power Plants serve a much more beneficial  purpose and while many have expressed their concerns with the use of nuclear power plants, the benefits that the more than 400 nuclear power plants world wide provide us with are enough to make a strong argument for nuclear power instead of an argument against it.

But we still have a major problem on our hands. How do we safely dispose of the nuclear waste we are producing? Nuclear waste is radioactive, which makes it very dangerous to most living things if disposed of incorrectly.

Luckily we have sites like WIPP working to rectify this issue. “WIPP” stands forWaste Isolation Pilot Plant.“WIPP, is the world’s third deep geological repository (after Germany’s Repository for radioactive waste Morsleben and the Schacht Asse II Salt Mine) licensed to store transuranic radioactive waste for 10,000 years.”

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WIPP is working to store approved nuclear waste 2,150 feet or 660 meters below the salt formations in New Mexico. The goal is to bury the waste under the concrete, soil, and salt which with the combined force of all three will keep the waste’s radiation neutralized and unable to affect any living things or the environment.

As brilliant as the solution is, it isn’t without its potential issues.

Due to the nature of the material being stored by WIPP and other similar waste sites, it takes a very long time before the radiation has diminished enough to where it is no longer a hazard to living things and the environment as a whole. As a result of this fact, WIPP has also been making plans to convey to future generations the danger that the site holds and why they should not disturb it.

As a result many ideas have been bounced around and one that seems to be the strongest is a warning/information room close to or in the site that will display a warning message written in six different languages, English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Navajo the language of the Native Americans.

The room will also have space for additional languages to translate the message as well. Keeping in mind that this site needs to remain undisturbed till around the year 12,030 AD. It’s safe to assume that a new language or two might pop up in that time so giving future generations a place to add their languages will help in making sure the message gets passed on.

But what if in the many thousands of years that the site needs to remain undisturbed all of our societies collapses? It’s not a future that we can rule out for certain (especially not with the global pandemic we have in our mitts now). Well, WIPP is working to figure that one out too. Once again many ideas have been brought to the drawing board but I think my favorite is this one…

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Large, sharp, black monoliths that surround the site almost instantly convey a sense of fear and dread that will work as a deterrent to keep any future civilizations from accidentally traveling into the site and disturbing the waste buried there. It looks like something out of a scifi horror movie and I love it!

I also love that so many different people and cultures from around the world are working together to make this project a success. They are working to not only protect the health and safety of all living things that exist on the planet today, but also for any living things that come to be long after everyone who built the site is gone. It really is a pleasant reminder that humanity can accomplish some truly amazing things when we all work together for a better tomorrow.


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