'Let's be clear: nuclear plants don't generate electricity. They produce only three things: vast amounts of heat (which is used to spin the turbines that generate electricity), radioactive fallout (in the form of 'permissible' leaks that have been linked to thyroid tumors and childhood leukemia) and tons of radioactive garbage." -- From "Nuclear Roulette," by Gar Smith.
On Wednesday evening, at 7 p.m. at the Left Hand Book Collective (1200 Pearl Street #10, close to Broadway and the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder), the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in conjunction with Left Hand Books, will show the film "Into Eternity." The film addresses the tons of nuclear garbage part of the generation of power from nuclear reactors. Called, "radical and stunning," by Slant Magazine, the film focuses on the underground waste repository now being built in Finland.
In 100 years it is anticipated that it will be full with nuclear power plant waste from Finland's four reactors, which produce 28 percent of Finland's electricity. (The U.S. has 104 reactors in 31 states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity.)
When the nuclear waste repository in Finland is full, the plan is to close it and seal it forever. The film grapples with the intricate philosophical questions of how to communicate with future beings who may exist 100,000 years from now. Should we try to warn them? What symbols might they understand? Theologians, scientists, nuclear repository representatives and others address these questions right before our eyes.
Currently, high level nuclear waste from reactors in the U.S. is stored at the sites of the reactors in vast cooling ponds -- incredibly vulnerable to catastrophes like terrorism, or earthquakes and tsunamis. It has all come from the hot core of the power plants and is the most intensely radioactive material on the planet, according to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. It is generated from uranium that is processed into fuel rods and loaded into the reactors, where it undergoes nuclear fission reaction and the intense heat is produced to turn the turbines to create electricity.
According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, the fuel rods must remain in the cooling ponds that are 40 feet deep, under at least 20 feet of actively circulating water, for five to ten years. Loss of cooling water to a cooling pond is extremely dangerous as we all saw with the tragic catastrophe at Fukushima. After 10 years the rods in Finland may be transported to their repository.
The U.S. doesn't have one. Gulp.
Come see the film.