Full body burden chapter 4 summary
Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen IversenFull Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman, Kristen Iversen, growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated the most contaminated site in America. Its the story of a childhood and adolescence in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and—unknown to those who lived there—tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium.
Its also a book about the destructive power of secrets—both family and government. Her fathers hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what was made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed)—best not to inquire too deeply into any of it.
But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions. She learned about the infamous 1969 Mothers Day fire, in which a few scraps of plutonium spontaneously ignited and—despite the desperate efforts of firefighters—came perilously close to a criticality, the deadly blue flash that signals a nuclear chain reaction. Intense heat and radiation almost melted the roof, which nearly resulted in an explosion that would have had devastating consequences for the entire Denver metro area. Yet the only mention of the fire was on page 28 of the Rocky Mountain News, underneath a photo of the Pet of the Week. In her early thirties, Iversen even worked at Rocky Flats for a time, typing up memos in which accidents were always called incidents.
And as this memoir unfolds, it reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism—a detailed and shocking account of the governments sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents vain attempts to seek justice in court. Here, too, are vivid portraits of former Rocky Flats workers—from the healthy, who regard their work at the plant with pride and patriotism, to the ill or dying, who battle for compensation for cancers they got on the job.
Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class-action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life.
It is also a story about the destructive power of secrets — family secrets and government secrets — and the cost of deception. Today, as development pushes against the borders of the former plant site and the United States moves closer to a renewed nuclear arms race, a clear-eyed assessment of our nuclear legacy is increasingly urgent.
FULL BODY BURDEN
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I was able to look back on my life, particularly my adolescent years, and put many things in perspective. My family has been remarkably supportive of the Full Body Burden , and we grew closer as we talked about things in the past that we had never really talked about before. The book has also had a big impact on the lives of people who live near Rocky Flats or other nuclear facilities in the United States and beyond — people whose stories and experiences have rarely been told. I received an e-mail from a reader who grew up in my hometown of Arvada, Colorado, and now lives in Japan, where she experienced the meltdown at Fukushima. And indeed, as I heard from people around the country, I began to see that many of us have been affected bay the nuclear industry.
With honesty and dignity, Iversen explains how her increasingly troubled father and ineffectual mother created a fragile home life that depended on silence and secrets—an atmosphere not unlike that of the mismanaged and deadly dangerous nuclear-weapons facility at Rocky Flats, located near their suburban Colorado home. To truly see and understand a landscape is to see its depth as well as its smooth surfaces, its beauty and its scars. Each trigger, part of the U. Among those living downwind and downstream of Rocky Flats during the s and s were Kristen Iversen and her family. They seemed to enjoy a perfect childhood. Also in trouble was nearby Rocky Flats. For decades, many in the local community did not even realize what was produced at Rocky Flats.
As absurd -- and alarming -- as the most improbable horror movie, Kristen Iversen's accumulation of facts in "Full Body Burden" has the power of truth. When, for the first time in history and after decades of collusion and secrecy, two government agencies raid another, you know something is seriously wrong. After almost four decades of operations, under increasingly Third World conditions, Soviet-style bureaucracy, innumerable contaminating accidents and the loss of enough MUF material unaccounted for to create at least seven Nagasaki-style bombs, the plant was forced to cease production. It took the DOE nearly 20 more years to accept that verdict, undertake a cleanup and donate 4, contaminated acres for wildlife refuge and recreation. Her title refers to "the amount of radioactive material present in a human body, which acts as an internal and ongoing source of radiation. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, "Full Body Burden" contrasts the banalities of midcentury family life with the almost unimaginable horror of the heedlessly-placed nuclear weapons plant that provided the economic engine for the region and, without the residents' knowledge or concern, spewed tons of radioactive plutonium into their backyard sandboxes and the streams feeding their drinking water. The contaminants, borne on the Rockies' high-intensity winds, sailed as far away as Denver.