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Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility, Cherenkov Radiation
Southeastern Washington State
, 2007
colour photograph
94, 9 x 114 x 3,2 cm
plate: 16,6 x 11,4 cm
edition 6/7+2A.P.
Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless steel nuclear waste
capsules containing cesium and strontium. Combined, they contain over 120 million
curies of radioactivity. It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the
United States. The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect or Cherenkov radiation.
The Cherenkov Effect describes the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a
charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent
medium. The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330 degrees Fahrenheit. The
pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an
unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than ten seconds.
Hanford is a 586 square mile former plutonium production complex. It was built
for the Manhattan Project, the U.S.-led World War II defense effort that developed
the first nuclear weapons. Hanford plutonium was used in the atomic bomb
dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. For decades afterwards Hanford manufactured
nuclear materials for use in bombs. At Hanford there are more than 53 million gallons
of radioactive and chemically hazardous liquid waste, 2,300 tons of spent
nuclear fuel, nearly 18 metric tons of plutonium-bearing materials and about 80
square miles of contaminated groundwater. It is among the most contaminated sites
in the United States.
Aquired 2007
Inv. Nr. 2007/69
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
Acquired with funding from the Grunelius-Stiftung, Frankfurt am Main
picture credits:
© Taryn Simon
Photo: Axel Schneider
Taryn Simon
* 1975 in New York, NY (US)