Plutonium Editorial
Dallas Morning News Editorial

   Sure, America is troubled by its tons of low-level radioactive waste and worried about its long-term care. But think big - terroristically speaking. High-level nuclear waste is the stuff of movies. All that plutonium that can be retrieved from spent reactor fuel and excess weapons grade plutonium is enough to build thousands of huge bombs. Lex Luthor is in his element.

    Nuclear countries facing the dilemma of what to do with their highly radioactive waste have discussed options from reprocessing to burial. One major problem stands out: security. Someone could pilfer the stuff.

    The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has a novel idea. Put all the plutonium in a museum, a Plutonium Memorial. If all the plutonium were in one place, it would have to be well protected.

    The magazine even has a design contest at

    Will this be the museum where you send your worst enemy to get him glowing? Maybe, but the magazine requires technical details be followed since plutonium can become rather nasty if mishandled.

    Just think about the endless possibilities (the stuff exists for thousands of years). Marvel Comics could underwrite the building, Donald Trump could develop it and Russia and China could compete for the site (but wouldn't it be more fun in France or Acapulco?). Consider it a monument to our age and the nondegradable waste man has generated.

    Stephen Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin, says, "It's a serious contest. Do we expect a memorial to get built? No." But he says it gets people thinking about the very real problem of nuclear waste. Yes, it does.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Plutonium, the contest: Rules

So you want to design a facility where all the world's plutonium can be safely stored for all eternity (or 24,000 years, whichever comes first)? Where tourists can visit and acknowledge the folly of creating as much explosive plutonium as humanly possible? Something that's beautiful and grand and awe inspiring? And you want to win cash and prizes, too?

The Bulletin welcomes all manner of original artwork in the following forms: drawings, paintings, architectural schematics, models, design plans, etc. Creative latitude in design is not only allowed, it is encouraged. But the work should meet the basic requirements for the structure as described in "Plutonium: The Contest ." Individual or group entries are equally acceptable. Complete entries will include: the artwork, a completed entry form, and a sealed envelope affixed to the back or bottom of the entry (containing name(s), address, and telephone number). Optional descriptions of submissions should not exceed 1,000 words. Only original artwork will be accepted, and incomplete or electronic entries will not be considered. All entries become the property of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and will not be returned. The Bulletin reserves the right to display or reproduce entries.

Prizes The creator(s) of the top entry will receive prize money totaling $1,500. The second- and third-place winning entries will each receive $750. Designers of the top 12 entries win a complimentary one-year subscription to the magazine and a memento (e.g., T-shirt, mug) bearing the Bulletin logo. Winners will be announced in the March/April 2002 issue of the Bulletin.

Deadline All entries must be received at the offices of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by 5 p.m., November 30, 2001. Late entries will not be considered.

Eligibility Neither employees nor sponsors of the Bulletin are eligible, nor are members of their immediate families. Members of the Board of Directors of the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science and their families are likewise ineligible.

Judging A panel of judges will evaluate all entries based on the following criteria, in no particular order: artistry, elegance of solution, practicality, novelty, and sense of humor. All decisions are final.

To enter Entrants should mail their carefully packaged masterpieces, with proper postage, to: Bulletin Contest, 6042 South Kimbark, Chicago, Illinois 60637. The Bulletin takes no responsibility for entries that are mangled or misdirected in the mail.

Taxes, if applicable, are the winner's sole responsibility.

Questions Please direct questions to:

While our approach may be lighthearted, the problem is not, and we hope that our contest will spark an original approach to the unwieldy problem of plutonium disposal. Or at least a few good discussions. Best of luck!
-the Bulletin


    * How plutonium must be handled
    * The experts page: Arguments and comments from the pros
    * Links related to the contest
    * Entry forms: HTML version; PDF version

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Plutonium Memorial Contest
6042 South Kimbark Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Fax: 773-702-0725