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Warning Future Generations About Nuclear Waste

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the opportunists-we-will-have-always-with-us dept.

Power 616

Smivs writes "How do we warn people 10,000 years in the future about our nuclear waste dumps? There is a thought-provoking essay in the The Guardian newspaper (UK) by Ulrich Beck concerning this problem. Professor Beck also questions whether green issues are overly influencing politicians and clouding our judgement regarding the dangers of nuclear power."

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Put a picture of Zeus on them. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240761)

Everybody knows that people in the future are afraid of Zeus.

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (3, Funny)

imipak (254310) | about 6 years ago | (#24240867)

Why not a huge granite sculture of a human skull with thee eye sockets?

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (4, Funny)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24240915)

Future Hindus might consider it a holy site...

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240927)

Two words: Indiana Jones. That prick will take your shit and bring it back into a museum or something.

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (3, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | about 6 years ago | (#24240949)

I didn't know he was a turd burglar!

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#24241025)

Why not a huge granite sculture of a human skull with thee eye sockets?

One of the official goals of the Yucca Mountain warning project is to prevent extra-terrestrials from accidental exposure (seriously). I don't think three eye sockets would necessarily mean much in that case.

Re:Put a picture of Zeus on them. (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#24241183)

I suggest a big BEWARE OF DOG sign. It works in my yard, and I think it can scale.

self-solving? (5, Funny)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | about 6 years ago | (#24240765)

I would think the increasing number of skeletal remains as one approaches the dump would be sufficient.

Re:self-solving? (0)

Amouth (879122) | about 6 years ago | (#24240799)

the glowing might also be a clue - but you know people - it will jsut spark their imaginiation - and they will use that nice self warming metal as a bed warmer - and the glow as a night light

Re:self-solving? (5, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | about 6 years ago | (#24241005)

I would think the increasing number of skeletal remains as one approaches the dump would be sufficient.

Actually, that would probably work - instead of putting a sign up with a skull and crossbones you could manufacture non-biodegradable human remains and use those as your "sign". (thus avoiding the confusion mentioned in TFA)

No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here (3, Informative)

mj01nir (153067) | about 6 years ago | (#24241237)

This is well trodden land for /. : This Place is Not a Place of Honor [] Radioactive Warning for Future Generations [] Check out the official SANDIA report: []

We don't (5, Insightful)

Rah'Dick (976472) | about 6 years ago | (#24240769)

Simple: we don't. Future generations of 10.000 years will probably have the means to detect radioactive sites from the other end of the galaxy. And mabye they'll even have the means to dispose of them quickly and safely. So why warn them? We should be more concerned about how to warn people in the more near future, like 200-500 years...

typically american. (-1, Flamebait)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#24240849)

Thats ... typically american. "Don't do anything, it'll fix itself" ... *sigh*

then again, warning people 200-500 years in the future shouldn't be hard, thats only a few generations, and we can't expect human language to change that much...

Re:typically american. (5, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 6 years ago | (#24240981)

What would you think if you stumbled across a warning from humans that existed 10,000 years ago? Think about it, 10,000 years ...

Wow, my ancestors are trying to warn me of danger, I must be careful.

Or more likely ...

Those silly ancestors, thinking that I wouldn't know anything that they don't.

Re:typically american. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24241017)

Thats ... typically american "Don't do anything, it'll fix itself" ... *sigh*

Notice the use of a period in 10.000? Look at his homepage, he's not American.

Thats ... typically human "Don't do anything, it'll fix itself" ... *sigh*

Fixed that for you.

My view as to why it won't matter in 1k years (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 years ago | (#24241027)

Here's the deal. Assuming that nuclear fusion doesn't hit it off anytime soon, or fission just ends up being cheaper in many cases, it'll be far less than 10k years before we're digging the stuff up to run in breeder reactors. After all, current high level 'waste' is still 90-95% uranium.

I'd say less than 500, actually. Given active storage sites, language/skill drift won't be enough to really matter for the hazards - they'll probably want to re-assay the stuff again anyways. So, we're spending a massive amount of effort on something where it, honestly enough, won't matter. The remaining isotopes after reprocessing have shorter half-lifes, so again, much less hazardous in a shorter time.

To the point that if they're digging as deep as we're burying it, they already have substantial enviromental concerns anyways. So yes, they should be knowledgable.

Re:typically american. (5, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 6 years ago | (#24241043)

Uh No.

It's "Don't waste The People's tax money on something that private industry will find a profitable use for". Like using the nuclear waste for nuclear power generation in more modern reactors, thus turning what was once hazardous and incredibly long lasting nuclear waste into less hazardous and very short-lived nuclear fuel AND large amounts of clean energy to power our economy and green the planet.

Or we could waste BILLIONS of tax-payer money on some hair-brained far-leftist scheme that won't work and will actually make the problem worse. I mean, why do the SMART thing and let The People fix the problem through ingenuity and enlightened self-interest? Let's let the Ivory-tower intellectuals have a go at it first so that the proper solution ends up even MORE expensive that it otherwise would be. Look how well that's worked out for our Energy Policy!


Re:typically american. (5, Funny)

Stonent1 (594886) | about 6 years ago | (#24241069)

U R nt spkng a lnguage I undrstnd. My BFF Jill dsn't eithr. LOL!!!! C U L8R KTHXBYE

Re:typically american. (5, Insightful)

lordsid (629982) | about 6 years ago | (#24241089)

Its actually the right thing to do in this case.

Any monument that they could build that would stand the test of time would only attract attention to the site. People are inquisitive and have no respect for the past. Its not like we believed any of the curses when we raided the tombs of Egypt. Why would it be any different for our future citizens? The scarier that the site is made to look the more people will be interested in it.

The site itself is hundreds of feet underground and in the middle of nowhere. The chances it being found if left unmarked are very very very small.

Personally I believe that we are going to be digging up our trash and other waste in the next few hundred years as a fuel source. In that case it would be nice to know where at that radioactive waste went.

Re:We don't (5, Insightful)

silentrob (115677) | about 6 years ago | (#24240921)

Simple: we don't. Future generations of 10.000 years will probably have the means to detect radioactive sites from the other end of the galaxy. And mabye they'll even have the means to dispose of them quickly and safely. So why warn them? We should be more concerned about how to warn people in the more near future, like 200-500 years...

Try answering the question without assuming that we managed to avoid having to go back to the stone age due to war, plague, famine, etc.

Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

If we've gone back to the stone age (1)

Woundweavr (37873) | about 6 years ago | (#24241063)

Then we won't have the knowledge to understand any warnings. Linguistically modern English would not be intelligible, scientific knowledge of radiation would be insufficient and a means to communicate in a way that doesn't require immediate proximity to the very thing we're warning against mean those neo-cavement would be boned.

Re:If we've gone back to the stone age (2, Interesting)

d3ac0n (715594) | about 6 years ago | (#24241137)

That, and the fact that it is highly unlikely that neo-cavemen would even be ABLE to dig hundreds of feet down into bedrock to get close enough to the waste for it to do any harm.

The article that sparked this Slashdot post is by some know-nothing Ivory tower far leftist. Full of 10 dollar words, long on speculation and short on facts.

In other words, "Nothing to see here, move along".

Re:If we've gone back to the stone age (1)

Talchas (954795) | about 6 years ago | (#24241235)

That, and the fact that it is highly unlikely that neo-cavemen would even be ABLE to dig hundreds of feet down into bedrock to get close enough to the waste for it to do any harm.

But hopefully those neo-cavemen would advance and gain the technology level of today (or the moderately recent past), perhaps before the waste became harmless. How would you warn a beginning industrial society that this area was dangerous, and shouldn't be mined?

Re:We don't (4, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | about 6 years ago | (#24240945)

You're assuming that progress continues and that we somehow don't blow ourselves up and have to start over.

Re:We don't (3, Interesting)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 6 years ago | (#24240963)

actually I see it the opposite way round.

In the short term (200-500 years), there is less chance of a industrial breakdown which might hamper our ability to detect radiation, and even if it does, I think our language will still be close enough to catch the gist of a warning sign (which should also still be intact if not exposed to the weather).

In the long term, chance of a complete technological break down is increased (although I suppose the chance of a recovery and relearning the necessary skills is increased as well) and there is a good chance language will have changed sufficiently to make understanding any sign we leave now a mystery (assuming a sign we leave could last 10000 years).

Re:We don't (1)

fredrated (639554) | about 6 years ago | (#24241021)

Your certainty is impressive, can I borrow your crystal ball?

Re:We don't (2)

baker_tony (621742) | about 6 years ago | (#24241031)

WTF?! I don't get this, Do people think that a hole is dug in the ground, nuclear waste is pored in and then you shovel dirt back over the top and it's never inspected ever again?
There's whole freaken complexes built under mountains containing this shiit in sealed drums and is able to be reprocessed when we know how! I'm pretty sure there's a sign at the front door as well saying something along the lines of "nuclear waste stored here, don't fuk with it if you don't know what you're doing and you don't wanna get shot"
This is a fuken stupid Slashdot article.

Re:We don't (5, Interesting)

njfuzzy (734116) | about 6 years ago | (#24241085)

I was thinking something similar, though I suspect it's about slightly more sophisticated logic. Something like this...

If our ancestors are sufficiently technologically advanced, they are overwhelmingly likely to have technology to detect and/or dispose of nuclear waste far more efficiently than we are. In this case, we don't need to warn them.

On the other hand, if our ancestors aren't sufficiently technologically advanced (to do the steps above) then they are also overwhelmingly likely not to have survived 10,000 years on a planet with global warming and 10,050 years of nuclear waste. In that case, we don't need to warn then.

haha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240789)

fuck yo' couch mutherfucker

Thats damn interesing (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240793)

Thats damn interesing

Orr we could (4, Informative)

clonan (64380) | about 6 years ago | (#24240797)

Reprocess the waste, and then "burn" the long term waste off in breeder type reactors.

We can get 10,000 year hazardous waste to 100 year hazardous waste....

Re:Orr we could (4, Insightful)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | about 6 years ago | (#24240865)

Which we could then encase in leak proof containers and dump them in a subduction zone.

Plenty of those around, so just dump it back in the Earth without having to guard it against earthquakes - in fact we'd like those to happen.

Re:Orr we could (2, Insightful)

VdG (633317) | about 6 years ago | (#24241171)

I agree that it seems the best way of getting rid of it. It'll even be recycled eventually. The biggest stumblinng block for that at the moment is international treaties restricting disposal of hazardous waste at sea.

Abissal plains are better (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | about 6 years ago | (#24241187)

In subduction zones part of the material keeps getting pushed around the edge for a long time before being dragged under. In 10000 years a lot of the material would still be sitting there.

But there are some parts of the ocean bottom that have remained stable for at least a billion years. We could enclose the material in glass or ceramic cylinders and bury them in the bottom of the sea. If anyone has the technology and the motive to dig 100 meters in mud that's under 5000 meters of water, one can assume they will have knowledge of the dangers of radioactive material.

Besides, that's a good way to keep it away from terrorists, too. Even if they could locate the exact spots where to dig, they wouldn't want to go to so much effort, there are easier ways to accomplish their ends.

Yeah, don't use them for energy or anything ... (4, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#24240881)

Rather than bury them, why not use them to make more energy in a fission reactor?

Re:Orr we could (5, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24240951)

We could. In fact, we could do that right now using the Integral Fast Reactor, except that its apparently a proliferation risk. We are willing to give up probably the cleanest source of nuclear energy developed so far, just because we are afraid of petty despots and terrorists getting their hands on a nuke. We are letting a tiny, tiny minority of small minded psychopaths determine the technological evolution of the human race, simply because we are scared.

Re:Orr we could (5, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | about 6 years ago | (#24240979)

Thank you. And another possibility is accelerator driven subcritical reactors. Not only does it burn all of the fuel, it is safer -- turn off the particle accelerator and the reactor shuts down.

The Strategic National Plutonium Reserve (5, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 6 years ago | (#24241141)

The parent is right. I don't know a whole lot about Nuclear Physics, but it's something I've been trying to read up on lately. The thing about 'spent' nuclear fuel, is that it still does have, as the parent points out, the potential to be reprocessed and burned again. I'm not entirely clear on this, but from what I've read, I think they can reprocess it quite a few times, until it's eventually at a fairly low energy and stable state to where, like the parent said, it's only dangerous for a short time.

What people don't realize is back in the 70's, the US was looking into the possibility of setting up breeder reactors to reprocess fuel. The Carter administration made the decision to, for the time being, defer re-processing the fuel, with the given reason that they were concerned about the ability to secure the Plutonium which is produced in the re-processing. That is, breeder reactors process 'spent' Uranium into a mixture of Uranium and Plutonium, I think (which can then be used as a fuel for a plutonium power reactor). The problem is, if someone diverted even *very small* amounts of the plutonium, which might be hard to detect because of how small an amount is missing, they could over time possibly accumulate enough material to build a small but powerful bomb, or at least a dirty bomb. Steal a few grams here, a few grams there, eventually you have a few kilograms.

Plus, there was an economic argument against it at the time - Uranium was cheap and abundant, so it was simply cheaper to keep burning 'new' Uranium, than to reprocess the spent Uranium. My understanding is that, at least currently, some of the processing and enrichment necessary to turn it into Plutonium fuel, hasn't been figured out how to do very econically effectively. There have been various Breeder reactor's put up in other countries, I think I read there are some in Europe and Asia, but so far the current designs, I guess, haven't turned out to be very economically competitive against other energy sources.

      Personally, as I indicate in my subject for this post, I view Yucca Mountain not as a waste site, a dumping ground, but more like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We are saving the spent Uranium until the time we need it and and have figured out the technologies necessary to efficiently and cheaply reproccess it, and how to secure it better. Because it stays 'hot' for 10000 years, it means we have plenty of time in which to figure out how to reprocess it and make an economically viable energy source out of it. In that regard, the extremely long time spans might be quite to our advantage, as it means we aren't, really, losing significant potential energy each year it's sitting in storage. In the meantime, we just keep buying 'new' Uranium and building up our strategic reserve.

Re:Orr we could (4, Funny)

u38cg (607297) | about 6 years ago | (#24241231)

Personally, I think we should get a big impregnable pit, and then fill it with some sort of long-lasting lethal substance which will stop anyone from going in there. How's that for a plan?

Easy, we don't (4, Funny)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24240801)

We simply wrap high grade nuclear waste in blocks of gold and help future generations by wiping out all the greedy fuckheads who ruin it for everyone else

Geiger counters go out of style? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240803)

I'm pretty sure 10k years from now, big bad piles of radioactive waste will still be pretty easy to find with the right equipment.

Dupe right out of 2006 (4, Informative)

rant64 (1148751) | about 6 years ago | (#24240805)

Re:Dupe right out of 2006 (5, Funny)

smussman (1160103) | about 6 years ago | (#24240863)

Easy, we just keep posting dupes on /. so that future generations can't forget.

Re:Dupe right out of 2006 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240939)

That was good! Wish I had some mod points today.

Technology? (1)

qoncept (599709) | about 6 years ago | (#24240807)

I'd guess there may be SOME off chance that these guys will have a geiger counter.

Re:Technology? (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 6 years ago | (#24240961)

That's optimistic; can you evolve one of those in only 10,000 years?

Re:Technology? (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 6 years ago | (#24241045)

I bet I could.

Re:Technology? (1)

fredrated (639554) | about 6 years ago | (#24241059)

Yeah, I carry one in my pocket all the time.

Re:Technology? (0)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | about 6 years ago | (#24241155)

I thought you were just happy to see me.

Re:Technology? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 6 years ago | (#24241203)

The armed guards that will have to guard them for 180,000 years from Al Quaeda and consorts will tell them.

And hopefully they will be paid by the companies running the atomic reactors now, then nuclear power might not be that cheap after all.

That's easy (1)

gparent (1242548) | about 6 years ago | (#24240825) []

Let's just send ourselves tons of emails!

Easy (1)

famebait (450028) | about 6 years ago | (#24240831)

Just carve in a really big version of the normal skull-and-bones poison symbol, only replace the human skull with an ape skull.

2012 (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | about 6 years ago | (#24240833)

10,000 years won't matter.

Giger counters? (3, Insightful)

objekt (232270) | about 6 years ago | (#24240837)

We'll provide plans so the ignnorant people of the future can build one of these []

Myths and Mouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240839)

Make a fairy tale about it and some moral that trespassing a particular place causes you to be captured by the devil and that you'll burn for eternality.

Rename the sites (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | about 6 years ago | (#24240859)

Name the sites after atomic scientists. That way, even if civilization takes a turn for the worst and the usual safety systems go under, our great*10^5-grandchildren will know to avoid Mount Einstein while they are roaming the lands hunting polar bears.

Re:Rename the sites (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 6 years ago | (#24240965)

In the radioactive future, polar bears hunt you!

Einstein was not a healthy man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24241051)

The truth is Einstein was not a healthy man.

First off his wife [] helped him come up with the e=mc^2 theory, yet she received no credit for it.

In the original publishing of the theory in 1905 she was credited with co-author credits []

Einstein himself spoke to her as an equal in respect to science. He all but admits to collaborating with her on his 1905 papers which made him famous.

In a 1901 letter he refers to the theory of relativity as our work []

Another small piece of Einstein history that few people know is the terms of his divorce from his first wife (The woman mentioned above) was that she received all prize money when he wins a Nobel prize for the theory of relativity. He agreed to this and in fact Einstein never saw any of the money when he won the Nobel prize.

Einstein awarded Nobel PrizeAfter seven nominations, Albert wins the 1921 medal for physics. He gives the prize money to Mileva, per their 1919 divorce agreement. It is the smallest cash award since the Nobel Prize was created, worth about $348,000 (in 2003 USD).

Sorry, I canâ(TM)t link to it but it is in the PBS timeline.

The kicker is that after his divorce from the woman who helped make him famous, the guy married his cousin. Yup, his COUSIN!!!!

cousin fucker []

So there you have it folks, the man so many think of as a symbol of modern science not only stole ideas (or at the very least refused to acknowledge getting help) from his wife but also decided that it would be fun to screw his cousin.

For someone who didn't give credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24241159)

He gave a lot of credit to her...

I for one... (5, Funny)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24240885)

Welcome our new sociologist overlords

From the article:

Ulrich Beck is author of World Risk Society and professor of sociology at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University and the London School of Economics

I can't think of a better person to solve our energy crisis than a sociologist. They have insights that we scientists and engineers simply lack. They understand how to guide policies based on feelings and such, whilst we are just stuck with our equations and physical laws.

I disagree with him, but that is probably due to my dogmatic, close minded acceptance of the laws of thermodynamics. Clearly, his subjective interpretation of mass human behaviour gives a much better insight into future energy policy.

Re:I for one... (4, Funny)

gunnk (463227) | about 6 years ago | (#24241081)

But... but... but... how can you POSSIBLY contest the opinion of a man that writes:

Yet to disregard the "vestigial risk" of nuclear energy is to misunderstand the cultural and political dynamic of the "residual-risk-society".

Really, don't you think that sums it up nicely?

Re:I for one... (1)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24241117)

Shit, thats me converted.

I've only got a degree in Computer Science, am working towards a masters in physics whilst developing a satellite, and I have no idea what that sentence means. Therefore, this guy must be looooads smarter than me and I will therefore accept his ideas without question!

Re:I for one... (3, Insightful)

Gnavpot (708731) | about 6 years ago | (#24241107)

I can't think of a better person to solve our energy crisis than a sociologist. They have insights that we scientists and engineers simply lack.

I know it was meant to be irony - but ironically, you were right.

He is not solving our energy crisis or any other technical problem. He is looking for solution to a problem which is much more sociological than technical:
How do we make sure that important information is passed on to our descendants for thousands of years?

I am an engineer, and I would certainly consider the typical engineer unfit for solving this type of problems.

Re:I for one... (1)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24241165)

He is trying to hold this problem up as a reason for discontinuing or slowing efforts to advance nuclear power, that is what I object to. If it weren't for people like him, the United States would've developed a reactor where all the waste leaving the site would be reduced to the activity of the original ores within 200 years. But oh no, we can't have an elegant technical solution where there is sociology to be done...

Space? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | about 6 years ago | (#24240887)

Why not just send it into space? Aim the rocket at some distant galaxy, and there's no need for us to worry about it. Unless, of course, we happen tu discover a Stargate address leading to that galaxy...

Re:Space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24241057)

Why some distant galaxy? We have this really cool furnace in the center of our own star system which would quickly deal with the material.

Re:Space? (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | about 6 years ago | (#24241095)

Why not just send it into space?

Because sometimes they come back!

Re:Space? (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | about 6 years ago | (#24241127)

If you're going to do that, just dump it into the sun, where it becomes irrelevant.

The problem won't be with the payload once it's en route, though-- it will be what happens if we have a launch disaster. I think we call a high-altitude explosion of nuclear waste a "dirty bomb".

Re:Space? (1)

Spatial (1235392) | about 6 years ago | (#24241169)

Because when one of the rockets blows up in mid-air and covers half the planet in radiactive debris, it'll dig a PR hole more than deep enough to contain the rest of the waste, making itself redundant.

Rockets come up every time... (2, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 years ago | (#24241227)

Mostly because launching stuff into space isn't anywhere near 100% reliable, and honestly enough, what the politicians are calling 'waste' that has to be safely stored for 10k years is actually still 90-95% of what a nuclear engineer would call 'potential fuel'.

Let Uranium double in price and reprocessing is suddenly profitable, and not that expensive to do on rods that have been cooling off for the last hundred years.

monolith (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240889)

Place a black monolith there

Charlie Rose conversation with Amory Lovins (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240913)

Lovins [] stated that nuclear power isn't that cost effective. If it were, the nuclear industry would have easily built more plants. Regulation isn't that big of a blocker. He didn't give any hard numbers and I have never seen them myself, but an interesting point of view, never the less.

I personally think the environmental excuse is just that: an excuse. The industry folks want to say something better than - we can't make enough money off of it - not PC.

The same goes for oil refineries. Refineries haven't had to work at full capacity, but the AM radio guys love to blame the "environmentalist whackjobs" for our gas prices.

Re:Charlie Rose conversation with Amory Lovins (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | about 6 years ago | (#24241019)

The dollar changes, the Joule is forever. Regardless of whether or not the power from a nuclear plant can cover the costs of its construction and decommissioning at the present time is irrelevant. We aren't designing plants to come online in a year, we are designing them to come online in 10-15 years. Thermodynamically, nuclear is worthwhile. When oil starts to really bite that is all that will matter, whether or not we have an energy source that can sustain us. Market forces are subservient to physical forces.

WARN them? (5, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | about 6 years ago | (#24240923)

Hell, they are going to be actively seeking out these uber rich pockets of energy, that we have the gall (or stupidity) to call waste.

Three year old geiger counters (1)

millwall (622730) | about 6 years ago | (#24240933)

[...] a historian reminded the commission that the skull and crossbones symbolised resurrection for the alchemists, and a psychologist conducted an experiment with three-year-olds: if the symbol was affixed to a bottle they anxiously shouted "poison!", but if it was placed on a wall they enthusiastically yelled "pirates!".

Brrrr... In the future we will have reverted to using our children as geiger counters!!

Oklo anyone? (1)

usefulidiot127 (1317861) | about 6 years ago | (#24240941)

Familiar with Oklo? It was a natural nuclear reactor formed underground in Africa. Its waste has been held in place (within 10 feet) underground for over 2 billion years. No one needed to warn us about that...

I vote for a broken down Statue of Liberty (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 6 years ago | (#24240955)

and the sites must also be on a beach.

Fake heads on pikes (1)

thepacketmaster (574632) | about 6 years ago | (#24240959)

The skull and crossbones is just a picture, but get some special effects guys to make a bunch of fake heads, all blood and everything, put them on pikes, and weather proof them. That'll get the point across...

Or we can hope that we simply won't devolve enough over the next 10,000 that we don't know what a Geiger counter is...

Re:Fake heads on pikes (1)

SlowGenius (231663) | about 6 years ago | (#24241177)

Yeah, but what if MTV and GTA cause our descendants to devolve into cannibals with a fondness for shish kebab?

school built over a explosives testing ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24240983)

...saw that on the news yesterday, and the houses around the area cannot be sold because they keep finding live ordinance buried around the area... so for nuclear waste just look for the glowing houses that some developer duped people into buying?

Ancient Egyptian medicine containers... (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 6 years ago | (#24240987)

In ancient Egypt, in the time of the Pharoahs, medicine was stored in specially made clay pots which had a face moulded into the pot. In that way, the patients could differentiate between cooking herbs and medicinal products.

Maybe a giant scary face would be one way. But there was an early slashot article where the solution was to have the area covered with black marble and have lots of sharp points triangles sticking up out of the ground.

why bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24241009)

if they have the knowledge and tech to deal with it, they will know anyway, if they don't know enough to know its dangerous, they can't deal with it.
doesn't matter much if we leave warning signs or not, that is really just a psychological thing to make ourselves feel better

Forgive me for being cynical (1)

Exanon (1277926) | about 6 years ago | (#24241015)

But I don't think we are going to survive for another 10.000 years considering that the last 100 years we have destroyed quite a lot. Earth will still be here of course, and it will do just fine.

But us? Please, we are fleas on interstellar cattle.

The Long Now Foundation (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | about 6 years ago | (#24241035)

Just contract it out to the Long Now foundation. Maybe, some sort of large clock...

Nice one (1)

sadgoblin (1269500) | about 6 years ago | (#24241037)

So instead of figuring out ways to clean the nuclear waste, we should warn the future guys about it in a hope that they will clean it... Nice.

Storage? (1)

RandoX (828285) | about 6 years ago | (#24241053)

Let's just shoot it into the sun and get it over with. What could possibly go wrong?

Glassify and dump on subduction zones (1)

gregor-e (136142) | about 6 years ago | (#24241061)

Seems to me if we'd just glassify the waste and spread it out thinly across subduction zones, there'd be no need to worry about warning anyone after a couple of decades.

Mr. Yuck (1)

AlexCorn (763954) | about 6 years ago | (#24241065)

Why not just put one of those green "Mr. Yuck" stickers from the doctor's office on every container of nuclear waste?

Post-it (1)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | about 6 years ago | (#24241075)

We would just leave Post-it notes reading "Very Dangerous Toxic Waste" on the most dangerous bits, obviously. Also, make sure that funding is up in the linguistics departments at universities so that when we get around to it, someone will know how to read said notes.

Shouldn't be a problem (2, Funny)

bipbop (1144919) | about 6 years ago | (#24241099)

Most likely, a pointy-haired hero armed with only his sword and a rag-tag bunch to back him up will attack the nuclear waste to death, after finding the vague hints we've left for no reason in our oceanfloor palace. I wouldn't worry about it.

Thought provoking? (1)

rodney dill (631059) | about 6 years ago | (#24241109)

This presumes that people in the future will be stupider than we are now...

Which is really quite a stretch.

Nuclear reprocessing a MUST (0)

Moderator (189749) | about 6 years ago | (#24241125)

BNFL really F'ed up the whole reprocessing idea at Windscale, err, Selafield, by occasionally "accidently" dumping radioactive waste into the Irish Sea (which is now the most radioactive in the world). The sea spray contains measurable levels of plutonium. Cancer levels are something like 100 times background levels. A burst pipe contaminated so much of the infrastructure of THORP that it is unclear if it can ever be made safe. And this is the center that was taking radioactive waste from nuclear power stations across the globe, on account of nobody else wanting something like that in their backyard.

Nuclear reprocessing is a must. At the current rate of development and fuel use, uranium ore will run out 25+ years before we are due to have a commercially viable fusion reactor, never mind enough such reactors that fission reactors can all be replaced. Well, either reprocessing is a must, or we need to invest an order of magnitude more in fusion research, but Governments don't like funding speculative research much and the decades of fuel we currently have will outlast the career of any politician currently with sufficient influence to actually bring about radical funding programs.

However, if we do have reprocessing, it absolutely needs to be far better managed than BNFL can do. Oh, and don't get Group 4 to carry the nuclear fuel, either. They tend to lose things a lot.

F*ck em?? (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | about 6 years ago | (#24241149)

Come on really why do we care.. I'll be dead before the turn of this century so why on earth would I give a tupney about about people in 10000years..

besides by that time 1 of 2 things will have happened.

1) Humans will be extinct (ironically) due to a nuclear war.
2) Humans will have left earth and be living onboard battlestar galactica and looking for a new earth as this one will have been raped of all its resources & only a inhabitable husk will remain.

We don't have to. (2, Insightful)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 6 years ago | (#24241167)

How do we warn people 10,000 years in the future about our nuclear waste dumps? We don't because we don't have to because we don't have to store waste for 10,000 years.

It is possible to reprocess [] fuel to remove the actinides, which have a long decay time, and recycle them into new fuel. The remaining radioactive waste has a much shorter decay time, on the order of a few hundred years.

We could put the waste in pyramids in desert (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | about 6 years ago | (#24241181)

We could put the waste in giant pyramids.

Seriously, we can put it anywhere.
By then, we have spent all the oil long ago.

This waste is the new oil.
It will be more useful than dangerous.
But I would assume that any useful waste would already be utilized by then.
And 10,000 years is a long time. Either we have no harmful waste, or we destroyed ourselves.

We should be reprocessing anyway. (2, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 6 years ago | (#24241189)

There is no reason to make waste that's dangerous for 10,000 years. In advanced countries like France, which has the cleanest air and the cheapest power in Europe, the waste from its many reactors is separated and the heavy atoms (which are responsible for almost all long-term radioactivity of unprocessed waste) are fissile and are used to make more electricity.

They thought about making dumping sites for what remains (and it's far less dangerous than the 10,000-year figure), but nobody liked that, so the waste is stored at the plant itself waiting to be used for something in the future.

I'm pretty sure that we'll need that stuff for something, and it will be a pain to dig it up.

With proper reprocessing, reactor waste can be made less radioactive than the mined ore in a span of 300 years, so nuclear power could potentially reduce the radioactivity in the world.

With pictures (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 6 years ago | (#24241193)

Just put a big picture of (insert humorous person to have a picture on here), they're so bad that in 10,000 years, people will still remember!

Stick figures! (1)

IAAE (1302511) | about 6 years ago | (#24241229)

I think a comic strip with stick figures getting sick from radiation poisoning, or simply dying, would be the most effective way to pass on the message that the radioactive waste stored here is dangerous. I'm sure the guys at XKCD would be willing to do it.

GTFO n00b (1)

ryanvm (247662) | about 6 years ago | (#24241233)

I thought we all agreed on just writing GTFO all over the place?

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