3. Was it hard to write so intimately about your family?
I believe that the most powerul way to tell a story is through personal, everyday experience. Every person on the planet has a story that is both ordinary and extraordinary. My siblings and I swam in thelake behind our house and rode our horses in the elds. We had, in many ways, a blessed childhood. And this kind o experience is one that many readers will share. What makes our story unique is thatit connects, in ways that we never anticipated, to a broader historical and political narrative. The story o the 1969 re at Rocky Flats—which very nearly destroyed the entire metro Denver area—is all themore powerul when you realize that my amily was having a very pleasant Mother’s Day brunch at anearby restaurant. We had no idea what was going on—and neither did other Coloradoans. It was only by including the experiences o me, my amily, my neighbors, and my coworkers at Rocky Flats that Icould truly bring the story to lie. It was indeed a challenge to write intimately about things that, as aamily, we were never supposed to discuss, including my ather’s drinking. And yet the end result was atremendous sense o clarity and understanding.
4. What surprised you most during your research for the book?
I was surprised, and continue to be surprised, by the secrecy surrounding this very dramatic story. Whathappened at Rocky Flats, during the Cold War and up to the present moment, is crucially important notonly to Colorado but to the entire country. But so much o the story has been hidden over the years, andnow it is in danger o being orgotten. Recently I stayed at a hotel just a ew miles rom the Rocky Flatssite, and the young man at the ront desk had grown up in Colorado. He’d never heard o Rocky Flats.O those people who do know the story—or part o it—many believe that Rocky Flats is old history, thatit’s irrelevant and insignicant. They believe the land is sae and the story is over. Ater all, you can’t seeor smell plutonium. Yet we cannot orget the story o Rocky Flats. The eects will linger ar into the uture.There were many other surprises too. During my research, I was shocked to discover how many tons o MUF, or “Missing Unaccounted For” plutonium, was missing, even to the present day. And the history o the 1989 FBI raid on Rocky Flats is ascinating. I believe it’s the only time in the history o theUnited States that two government agencies—the FBI and the EPA—have raided another agency, theDepartment o Energy.
5. For people who want to know more about the hazards of former nuclear weapons sites and nuclear power on our environment, where should theygo? How can they get involved?
Two excellent sources o inormation regarding nuclear issues are the Bulletin o Atomic Scientists (www.thebulletin.org) and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). For news about Rocky Flats, an organization called Nuclear Guardianship (www.rockyfatsnuclearguardianship.org) is a goodsource regarding past and ongoing issues.
FULL BODY BURDEN