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Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and Nuclear Threat

Peter C. van Wyck
Volume: 26
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsz66
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  • Book Info
    Signs of Danger
    Book Description:

    Focusing on the government’s nuclear waste burial program in Carlsbad, New Mexico, Signs of Danger begins the urgent work of finding a new way of thinking about ecological threat in our time. The reflections at the center of this book—on memory, trauma, disaster, representation, and the virtual—offer invaluable insights into the interface of where culture ends and nature begins._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9259-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    March 26, 1999. carlsbad, n.m.—Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today announced that the first shipment of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste arrived safely at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Hundreds of people were on hand to watch this important milestone in the Energy Department’s work to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. . . . “This is truly a historic moment—for the Department of Energy and the nation,” said Secretary Richardson. “This shipment to WIPP represents the beginning of fulfilling the long-overdue promise to all...

  5. Waste
    (pp. 1-30)

    Modern wastes and nuclear wastes in particular are difficult things to contain—conceptually, discursively, and otherwise. One way to think about it: You take out the garbage and leave it on the curb. Sometime later it disappears, presumably taken to a transfer station, a landfill, a dump. Here your garbage is contained and confined and kept safe. In this series time is not a factor. Another way to think about it: You might take your household organic waste and compost it under the rose bushes in the back yard. In this case it’s not about containing the waste, and time...

  6. Dangerous Signs
    (pp. 31-76)

    Plucked from the Western delta of the River Nile at the end of the eighteenth century, the Rosetta stone is the structural model of time capsule wish fulfillment. That is, it is both a wish to be understood by the future and an acknowledgment of the incomprehensibility of the past.¹ More recently, the time capsule that was buried during the 1964 World’s Fair bore a stainless steel plate bearing an inscription in the then official languages of the United Nations (Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). But that one wasn’t meant for us. Others, though, are. As we have crossed...

  7. Threat and Trauma
    (pp. 77-124)

    Much of the work of signing the waste has been directed toward the future, toward an event as though it is yet to take place. The desert monument as archive is a passive sender of information directed at future persons on a need-to-know basis. In this sense, the designs are not about the present, they are not about material that is dangerous now in the present and that has been dangerous since coming into being. And significantly, these designs disavow the assertion of their own presence as a massive production in the desert. All of this allows the monument to...

  8. Appendix: A WIPP Chronology
    (pp. 125-130)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 131-146)
  10. Index
    (pp. 147-156)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 157-157)