Thursday, June 28, 8pm
We are excited to host the launch of Repository: A Typological Guide to America’s Ephemeral Nuclear Infrastructure by Smudge Studio, which will present the cards and tell the terrifying tales of the real-life nuclear waste shell game. All of our nation’s high-level nuclear waste has nowhere to go. And yet, it’s always migrating somewhere, either under its own power or in a vibrant assemblage with other things such as water, air, soil, bacteria or human commerce. Repository graphically depicts this material reality through a deck of 42 cards designed to help you spot and identify today’s temporary solutions for the storage of radioactive waste, as you pass by them on the highway, or as they pass by you.
Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository was our nation’s best attempt to store and contain high-level waste. In 2010 the site was deemed unsuitable and the project’s funding was eliminated. No permanent storage options are expected to be available for the next 100-300 years. In 2004, the EPA determined that high-level radioactive wastes will remain dangerous to humans for 1 million years. They stipulated that any repository for high level waste will have to meet the unprecedentedly long-term safety goal of 1000 millennia. As of 2011, about 66,000 metric tons of spent fuel were being held at power reactor sites in 33 states. Each year, this amount increases by another 2,000 metric tons.
Repository chronicles “temporary” infrastructures designed (or simply used) to contain nuclear waste until more enduring facilities can be researched and constructed. Some of the cards feature structures that take notably unique approaches to storage. Others exemplify common infrastructural forms or approaches that run through multiple facilities, or function as mobile infrastructures for transporting radioactive waste between sites. As with other smudge projects, we invite audiences to expand their capacities to imagine the monumental time spans required to contain and monitor nuclear materials, and to consider the extraordinary challenges that they present to designers, architects and engineers.