The Mummy of Nuclear Waste

In “the Mummy” (2017), Tom Cruise is a rogue army officer looking for ancient artifacts to sell on the black market. He gets caught in a tough spot, calls in an air strike, and blows a hole in the street of an insurgent occupied town that reveals a screaming face. His commanding officer gets there along with a woman who specializes in protecting antiquities. They discover a giant screaming bust, which she recognizes as Egyptian. Cruise, his partner and the woman go into the hole.

There the woman narrates what she sees: A rope with hieroglyphs to warn against evil spirit submerged in a pool of mercury being used to weaken its power, watchers faced inward (rather than outward) guarding against the pool, a set of chains (not for bringing the object up but instead, for keeping it down). We find out later that she knows monsters exist, and this is one of the most ancient. Even with all of these warnings and the knowledge of why the cavern looks the way it does, Cruise shoots the rope, activates the lifting mechanism and reveals the sarcophagus, which is taken aboard a military aircraft as a sandstorm threatens to engulf the plane.

Many of the other Mummy movies that came before involve a team seeking treasure in the desert and continuing to proceed despite warnings of natives, tribes put in place to guard against the release of the evil, and bad things happening to the team before they even enter the chamber.

There is a popular myth about the curse of Tutankhamun. Many people believe there was a curse written on his tomb and Howard Carter went in anyway. Even though there has been no curse inscribed on the tomb, it’s representative of what people will do for knowledge, history, fortune and glory. The truths exposed in these films and this legend include people are curious and people are greedy. And these are the reasons why burying nuclear waste won’t work.

Nuclear waste is deadly for 250,000 years. That’s longer than any languages will survive. Burying it with statues and pictograms detailing its deadliness may be treated as superstition from a less developed society. Or it may not be readable to explorers who have no context for the depictions. Worse, it may entice the future explorers to learn more about the inhabitants who lived amongst the strange drawings. At that point, the horror and joke will be on them. Assuming the mummy of nuclear waste isn’t unwrapped by natural disasters or our own people with malevolent intent.