Transuranic

Transuranic is a series of 13 uranotypes, an archaic photographic process that uses uranium instead of silver, from all the sites in the western U.S. that ship radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I traveled to each of these sites, documenting the locations and tracing the routes that radioactive waste is transported across our country on.

In 2013 I moved to New Mexico from Japan, where I was volunteering in the disaster zone left by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown. Finding myself once again in a place with a complex nuclear history, I set out to discover how the nuclear industry was impacting the land around me. In Transuranic I look at the citizen’s view of radioactive waste sites and their existence in the banality of everyday life. Radioactive waste is not hidden away in glorious alcoves; it is driven down our highways. It is in our backyard. Sometimes, we catch a glimpse of a sign for one of these sites, which serves as an illusion of containment and transparency. These are sites of our new normal.

Uranotypes:
In the uranium printing process, uranyl nitrate (from the radioactive element uranium) is painted onto paper and exposed beneath a negative under a UV light. The process was patented in 1858 but vanished in the face of the more practical silver process.

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Transuranic

Transuranic Installation View

13 Uranotypes (uranium prints)

Installation View: 9"x13" Uranotype in locked box with 2 Geiger Counters, Sound

Cold War Era Geiger counter and post-Fukushima consumer Geiger counter

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad New Mexico, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

The nation's only geological repository for radioactive waste.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 9,176.38 m3 (2,424,143 Gallons)

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls Idaho, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 42,920.48 m3 (11,338,391 Gallons)

Columbia Generating Station, Hanford Washington, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 5,060.79 m3 (1,336,919 Gallons)

Hanford Site, Hanford Washington, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 5,060.79 m3 (1,336,919 Gallons)

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad New Mexico, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Amount of waste emplaced to date: 90,983.42 m3 (24,035,165 Gallons)

Urenco, Eunice, New Mexico, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

The only uranium enrichment plant in the U.S.

Rocky Flats Plant, Arvada Colorado, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 15061.94 m3 (3,978,943 Gallons)

Hanford Site, Hanford Washington, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 5,060.79 m3 (1,336,919 Gallons)

Nevada National Security Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 405.37 m3 (107,087 Gallons)

Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, Arvada Colorado, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Radioactive waste shipped to WIPP: 15061.94 m3 (3,978,943 Gallons)

Waste Control Specialists, Andrews Texas, 2014, 9"x13" Uranotype

Temporarily accepting waste since WIPP’s closure in February, 2014

Transuranic Installation View

Pedestal with Geiger counters on Uranotype print, Sound

Transuranic Installation View

13 Uranotypes (uranium prints)

Transuranic Installation View

Cold War Era Geiger counter and post-Fukushima consumer Geiger counter, Sound

Transuranic Installation View

Cold War Era Geiger counter and post-Fukushima consumer Geiger counter, Sound

Installation Example from 3-Person Exhibition

Reactive Matters at Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR

Transuranic is a series of 13 uranotypes, an archaic photographic process that uses uranium instead of silver, from all the sites in the western U.S. that ship radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. I traveled to each of these sites, documenting the locations and tracing the routes that radioactive waste is transported across our country on.

In 2013 I moved to New Mexico from Japan, where I was volunteering in the disaster zone left by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown. Finding myself once again in a place with a complex nuclear history, I set out to discover how the nuclear industry was impacting the land around me. In Transuranic I look at the citizen’s view of radioactive waste sites and their existence in the banality of everyday life. Radioactive waste is not hidden away in glorious alcoves; it is driven down our highways. It is in our backyard. Sometimes, we catch a glimpse of a sign for one of these sites, which serves as an illusion of containment and transparency. These are sites of our new normal.

Uranotypes:
In the uranium printing process, uranyl nitrate (from the radioactive element uranium) is painted onto paper and exposed beneath a negative under a UV light. The process was patented in 1858 but vanished in the face of the more practical silver process.