You may be done with Yucca Mountain, but, oh, it’s not done with us. Don’t worry (at least not yet!), this isn’t a blog post about some fresh and disheartening reversal in the decades-long saga that sees the high-level nuclear waste dump rearing its ugly half-life again. I’m referring instead to a more metaphorical kind of radioactivity: the ways in which the would-be Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, in all the troubling majesty of its thorny hypotheticals — an engineered underground nuclear graveyard expected to exist many millenia into and perhaps beyond human history — continues to force us to grapple with tricky questions about human language and culture. For instance, after we build a burial site capable of containing high-level nuclear waste, here or elsewhere, how do we warn the future? Indeed, the nuclear cemetery that never quite was has borne fascinating fruit.
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