When the Wind Blows 2015
When the Wind Blows depicts six scenes of seemingly mundane nuclear landscapes. The sites include a uranium mine, nuclear-energy production and defence-related sites, radioactive waste and post-accident and remediated sites. Surrounded by secrecy, often located in remote environments or hidden away behind signs restricting entry, these sites are often beautiful and always, on investigation, compromised. Vulnerable to fragile security systems, weather, flawed protocols, political priorities, mismanagement and corruption, and sometimes just simple mistakes, nuclear facilities reflect the limitations of the fallible entities that manage them.
In response to the dropping of the American atomic bomb at Hiroshima, the Soviet Union conducted nuclear explosions between 1949-89 at The Polygon Nuclear Test Site, Kazakhstan. Located in the Experimental Field, the pond in Ground Zero is where the first Soviet atomic bomb was detonated, launching the nuclear arms race. The nearby bridge, towers and bunkers tested, recorded and measured the effect of the above ground explosions. At Degelen Mountain, 100 kilometres away, 209 underground nuclear tests were carried out in tunnels. After years of being ransacked by scavengers, the tunnels are blocked to outside access by cement plugs. During the tests, approximately 1.5 million people lived in the area.
Founded in 1970, Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine, was a model nuclear city for workers at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that reflected the optimism of the nuclear industry. Three days after the 1986 explosion, the city was permanently abandoned.
Since opening in 1980, Ranger Uranium Mine, Kakadu National Park, NT has experienced routine failure of its water and waste management systems. After falling sales and traditional owners’ opposition to its expansion, the mine will cease operations in 2021. A 5-year clean-up is mandated but funding is uncertain.
Dungeness Nuclear Power Station B, Kent UK is situated 2 metres above sea-level in a wildlife sanctuary. Built too close to the sea, the plant is protected from sea surges by the man-made shingle defence. Waste hot water and sewage from the power station are pumped into the sea, and the increased life of the sea-bed attracts seabirds.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the sole operating underground nuclear waste storage facility in the world. It receives defence-related waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory. After a fire in a delivery truck, and an underground explosion caused by the substitution of non-organic with organic kitty litter to absorb moisture in the waste containers, the Plant is closed for recovery for an indefinite period.
Single-channel HD video, custom screen,
Duration 13 mins loop, stereo sound