Michael Madsen in the tunnel of Onkalo

Into Eternity: A Film for the Future, a long-term solution for nuclear waste

On the road to progress, the humanity has made the mistake of not stopping before the price was too high. It’s inevitable to run for cover and take responsibility to prevent the consequences from weighing on future generations.

In this sense “Into Eternity: A Film for the Future”, a movie that in 2012 participated in Cinemambiente Festival, in Turin, tries to establish a bond of trust and collaboration between our civilization and posterity, in order to preserve the planet and its inhabitants as long as possible. Michael Madsen’s work is a union between a documentary and an orientation film for the people of the coming millennia.

Into Eternity Poster

An original work of great impact, which has received awards all around the world, starting with the festivals members of the Green Film Network. Grand Prix at FIFE of Paris, successes in Kosovo at Dokufest of Prizren, in Mexico at CinemaPlaneta, in Portugal at CineEco and at FilmAmbiente of Rio de Janeiro, where the movie was elected Best International Feature Film.

Creating an atmosphere between the science fiction and the most apocalyptic reality, the director deeply investigates an ambitious project about the construction of Onkalo, the first permanent repository of nuclear waste in the world. The structure consists of an underground tunnel 500 meters deep, which is estimated to last at least 100.000 years. Olkiluoto, in Finland, is the place chosen to host it, because of a rocky substrate unchanged for 1,8 billion years, so presumably stable for the next millennia.

Onkalo

The nuclear energy production has accumulated over time about 250.00 tons of radioactive waste, whose action is as intangible as devastating. For now it was decided to isolate them in water tanks, a temporary storage which is only a short term palliative. Keeping the waste in surface means to expose them to the instability of a world that, as history told us, is subject to disasters, wars and incidents that could pour them into the atmosphere. Moreover this kind of storage requires constant monitoring by humans.

Therefore the research for a permanent solution and the conception of Onkalo, a pioneering and visionary project involving a lot of experts and researchers, whose opinions were recorded by Michael Madsen, in order to underline benefits and controversies of the work. Onkalo will be completed in 2100, after that the tunnel will be sealed and hidden for eternity, without the need for surveillance. According to the director “The Onkalo project of creating the world’s first final nuclear waste facility capable of lasting at least 100.000 years, transgresses both in construction and on a philosophical level all previous human endeavors. It represents something new. And as such I suspect it to be emblematic of our time, and in a strange way out of time, a unique vantage point for any documentary”.

The tunnel of Onkalo

Onkalo is designed to defend humanity from the product of its abuse, but also from the humanity of the future. The desecration of Onkalo would cause destructive effects, it’s therefore essential to consider any hypothesis to prevent mankind to violate its access in the next millennia. But it’s impossible to predict the kind of civilization that will live on the Earth from here to thousands of years, as well as the media and the tools in their possession.

What then is the best option? To mark Onkalo with immediate alarm messages to discourage access or to deliver to oblivion the secret it keeps? The idea is to create a constantly updated information store about Onkalo. A way to pass down from generation to generation the reasons that led to its creation, but also the warning of “remember to forget” its existence.

In this sense the incursions by the director are effective to create an almost mythological legend around Onkalo, also because of a judicious use of suggestive images and thoughtful silences that lead to reflection. Madsen speaks to a viewer of an indefinite future, to give him a kind of moral testament that, although in the form of an offer of help, sounds almost like the confession of a guilty and selfish civilization, disrespectful towards the common and vulnerable gift that is our planet.