Universal Warning Sign: Yucca Mountain

Design Exhibition

Sponsor: Desert Space Foundation

"To design is to plan and organize, to order and relate and to control.
In short, it embraces all means opposing disorder and accident.
Therefore it signifies a human need and qualifies manís thinking and doing."

Josef Albers

Introduction and Challenge
Press Coverage
Judging Committee
Exhibition Contact
Reference Research Links
Background Information
Enter Online Gallery


-Majorie Barrick Museum of Natural History
-Western Nevada Community College - Fallon, Nevada
-Eureka Courthouse - Eureka, Nevada
-UCLA, Department of Design | Media Arts


Introduction and Challenge

The Desert Space Foundation presented an exhibition comprised of winning designs in a variety of media that engage the challenge of creating an effective universal warning sign/permanent marker for the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mt., Nevada.

The purpose of the warning sign is to deter intentional or inadvertent human intrusion or interference at the site and to effectively communicate over the course of the next 10,000 years (the projected duration of the volatility of the waste) that the integrity of the site must not be compromised in any way in order to safeguard humanity from the release of the radiation contained within.

The Desert Space Foundationís primary motive and interest in producing the Universal Warning Sign: Yucca Mountain Design Exhibition is strictly educational in nature as it serves only to bring greater public awareness to the facts and challenges associated with long-term storage of nuclear waste.

This project is intended to enable people inside and outside the state of Nevada to make better-informed decisions about this important issue. The project is not intended to present a biased opinion in favor or in opposition to the issue.

The exhibition is available to tour. Please contact Joshua Abbey to discuss this opportunity.

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Press Coverage

Los Angeles Times, October 15th, 2003
The Wall Street Journal, February 10th, 2003
The Village Voice: Features: Deep Time, Short Sight by R.C. Baker
Las Vegas Sun: Contest Addresses Yucca Controversy
Las Vegas Review Journal: NEON: Marking the Future
Las Vegas Weekly: It's about time
Las Vegas City Life: No thrill on blue Yucca hill
Las Vegas City Life: Go tell it on the mountain
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October, 2002
Artweek, May, 2002
Wallpaper, April, 2002
Neon, Summer, 2002
U.S.News & World Report, August 5, 2002
Corriere Della Sera, Sette Magazine, September 26, 2002

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Judging Committee

The work in the exhibition was selected from design submissions that were part of an international competition. The jury for the competition included:

∑ Rita Deanin Abbey, Emeritus Professor of Art, UNLV
∑ Jose L. Gamez, Assistant Professor School of Architecture, UNLV
∑ Aurore Giguet, Curator of Exhibit Design, Marjorie Barrick Museum
∑ David Hickey Author, Professor of Art, UNLV
∑ Libby Lumpkin, Author, Assistant Professor of Art, UNLV
∑ Joanne L. Nivison, Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Las Vegas
∑ Roger Thomas, Executive V.P. of Design, Wynn Design and Development
∑ Helga M. Watkins, Assistant Professor of Art, UNLV

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Exhibition Contact

Joshua Abbey
Desert Space Foundation
18 Cerchio Alto
Henderson, Nevada 89011-3606
(702) 898-0511
(702) 898-8792 fax

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Reference Research Links

Passive Institutional Controls

Waste Isolation Project

DEEP TIME, Part I, by Gregory Benford

Modeling Industrial Thresholds

Clark County's Nuclear Waste Program

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Home Page

Why Nevada is Opposed to Yucca Mountain

The UNLV Yucca Mountain Education Project

Nuclear Information and Resource Service & World Information Service on Energy

Nuclear Waste Transportation Routes

Nuclear Waste

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Background Information

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specified, "Disposal sites shall be designated by the most permanent markers, records, and other passive institutional controls practicable". The EPA then goes on to define passive institutional controls to mean "(1) permanent markers placed at a disposal site, (2) public records and archives, (3) government ownership and regulations regarding land or resource use, and (4) other methods of preserving knowledge about the location, design, and contents of a disposal system". The Department of Energy has interpreted this regulatory language to mandate the development and implementation of a system of passive institutional controls consistent with those components listed in the EPA's definition in order to protect the integrity of the disposal system for as long as practicable after disposal. 10,000 years!

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