Plutonium the killer poison in nuclear wastes, and nuclear reprocessing
five years of meetings between Soviet and American scientists from the Federation of American Scientists about what to do with the separated plutonium. There is a tremendous pressure to use it. . . . It is as if we don’t know what to do with this unless we make it serve us, and that is exactly what I am beginning to think, that we cannot ask of the poison fire. If we want to make it serve us, it will kill us
Nuclear Guardianship The Search for New Perspectives Lecture by Joanna Macy reprinted with permission from Poison Fire, Sacred Earth, TESTIMONIES, LECTURES, CONCLUSIONS, THE WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992 pages 256-258
To call this stuff “waste” is a misnomer, it is hardly an accurate term, because the strange and almost mythic character of the poison fire — uranium — and our processing of it has been that at every stage of the fuel cycle, everything that we have employed, every glove, every boot, every truck, every reactor, every facility, every mine, every heap of mill tailings, everything becomes not only contaminated, but contaminating.
And governments and industry and scientists themselves don’t know what on earth to do with it. They don’t know what to do with this stuff, and it is our most enduring legacy. They say they have a final solution to bury it in the ground in deep geological disposal, hiding it out of sight and out of mind, as if the earth were dead, as if the earth were not a living being, shifting with underground waters and seismic activities, as if the containers themselves could outlast a generation, which they cannot!
For nothing lasts as long, no container lasts as long as the poison fire itself. And it will leak out and out to contaminate. We know that that is true from our own personal lives. We try to hide something in our personal life, you know that happens, and it contaminates everything. And North of me, up at the Hanford Reservations they talk about clean up. Clean up! And even though Congress through the DOE has allocated millions of dollars for that now, they push around and they move the earth with their trucks and their bulldozers and their scoops. Try asking them where they are going to put it!
This challenge — it asks of us to evolve a different relationship with uranium, with plutonium, with the poison fire. . . . more and more citizens are beholding, seeing, recognizing that this legacy must be guarded responsibly. Ground level storage on sight, and so we know better what to do with it, keep it visible with minimal transportation on sight where it is ecologically feasible. . .
I have been reading reports of five years of meetings between Soviet and American scientists from the Federation of American Scientists about what to do with the separated plutonium. There is a tremendous pressure to use it. . . . It is as if we don’t know what to do with this unless we make it serve us, and that is exactly what I am beginning to think, that we cannot ask of the poison fire. If we want to make it serve us, it will kill us, and perhaps the plutonium is saying to us something like this: Look at me, just look at me. I cannot be your slave, I cannot serve your ambitions and your comforts. You cannot use me to fight each other. Just look at me and if you look at me, guarding me, keeping me out of the biosphere for the sake of your future generations, then I will become your teacher. And in the act of beholding me and guarding me, you will awaken to your courage and to your faithfulness and to your solidarity with each other.” http://www.ratical.org/radiation/WorldUraniumHearing/JoannaMacy.html#P
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