Poetry

Expert judgment on markers

Sending this message was important to us.

We considered ourselves a powerful culture.

What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us.

This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location

the center of danger is here

of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed if you substantially disturb this place.

This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

 

Author’s note: this is a found poem, all lines taken from: Kathleen M Trauth et al., Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, prepared by Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico & Livermore, California, for the United States Department of Energy, 1993. Appendix F, section 4.1 (F-50), https://prod-ng.sandia.gov/techlib-noauth/access-control.cgi/1992/921382.pdf. This document describes the design for warning monuments to be constructed at radioactive waste sites in the US, such the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and Yucca Mountain, 160 kilometres north-west of Las Vegas.

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