Finland Shinning a Light for the World

There is an island off the southeastern coast of Finland where something remarkable is happening. A first of its kind, a pioneering of humanity designed to outlast humanity itself. A dark, desolate, bottomless tomb carved into the very bedrock of the earth where a faceless danger capable of liquefying life will be exiled forever—the entrance sealed over and marked with a warning to all future eyes:

This place is not
a place of honor

No highly esteemed deed
is commemorated here

Nothing is valued here

What is here is dangerous
and repulsive to us

This message is a
warning about danger.

The island is known as Olkiluoto, home to the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant, one of two plants in Finland’s nuclear fleet. The plant itself is not remarkable—what’s remarkable is the 1,710 ft labyrinth being constructed near it, the world’s first deep geological repository for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Known as Onkalo, the repository is the planet’s only answer to the challenge of safely handled high level nuclear waste, and the radiation doomsday hysteria that follows like a plague.

Radiation poisoning from nuclear waste has been the driving piston behind a large swath of the green histrionics surrounding much of the American population’s current derogatory attitude toward nuclear energy. With the advent of the New Green Deal, the nuclear industry has taken yet another beating to its already bruised-in-the 10th round-carcass—the original body blows stemming from decades of blowback after well-known international nuclear disasters such as Fukushima and Chernobyl. Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Hans Blix, in a recent article for Time Magazine, paraphrased the environmentalist attitude toward nuclear energy and waste, when he writes “To use nuclear power and generate radioactive waste, environmentalists argued, was like taking off in an airplane without knowing where to land.” Indeed that may have well been true—but it is no longer; Finland is providimg a place to land, nearly 2,000 feet down.

Approaching the dour metal door of Onkalo, one is reminded of Dante: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. In the middle of the island, surreptitiously woven into lush avenues of pine trees, gurgling springs, and the distant smoking chimneys of the island’s only town, Onkalo gathers its exiled depths. Long winding cavernous tunnels lengthen into the darkness like frayed nerves, pouring down deeper into the grey walls of ancient rock, lit only by the thinly spaced pulses of electricity and ruffled only by the dull buzzing of excavation machines moving somewhere in the dark, phosphorescent shadows dancing along the bedrock scrawled with seismic drawings and studies, rock that formed more than 1.9 billion years ago—a retro-fitted minibus transports fluorescently camouflaged workers who appear out of the blackness in intervals, it takes twenty minutes to reach the deepest chamber, where the world above is merely the illusion of an afterthought—Onkalo is meant to last 100,000 years. No one alive today will know whether it succeeds.

What we do know is this: nuclear energy absolutely must have a place in our future. Solar and wind energies are not capable of shouldering the full load of a clean energy future—nature has not yet informed us she will be at our beckoned command. Nuclear energy produces more than any other energy resource with infinitely less, and is sustainable—the sensationalist mongrels who scream day and night for the nuclear industry’s death, must put aside their rent-a-ideals and step back into the empirical light: nuclear energy is best chance for a clean future. They must learn that their fears of waste contamination, while grounded and not without merit, can be allayed by practicality—by planning, by responsibility, by ethics, and by an empathy to unburden the future from the mistakes of the past. Onkalo is keeping the flame of that light—now the world must follow.

Otek has long been an ally of the global nuclear industry and will continue to be as we walk year by year into this new millennium. Let us not be goose-stepped into falsehood by the screeching declarations of the hysterical mob, let us not have our thoughts arranged for us, let us always seek facts, seek evidence, seek truth, and let us always seek the future. We design all our products with this in mind—we’re with the nuclear industry for a clean energy future. We hope you’ll join us.

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