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Full Body Burden by Kirsten Iversen

imagesKirsten Iversen grew up in the seventies and though she lived in Colorado and I lived in Indiana, our childhoods were very much alike.  Every kid in the neighborhood had either a horse or a dirt bike.  Moms kicked kids out of the house after breakfast and didn’t want them back inside until dinner.  However, Iversen grew up in the shadow of Rocky Flats, a nuclear weapons facility and I did not.  Little did the families know that the kids were playing in contaminated soil and water and breathing contaminated air all day long.  Full Body Burden is the account of both her childhood and the Rocky Flats facility.  When Iversen is young, everyone she knows thinks that the facility (which is run by Dow and then Rockwell) makes cleaning supplies.  Meanwhile, the factory is really a plutonium plant and is having accidental fires and filter failures and dumping waste into the surrounding rivers.  Both the government and the companies keep any “accidents” secret.  There are thousands and thousands of acres of unusable land across our nation because of these former nuclear weapons sites and that is not counting all the areas taken up to store the waste.  This book is chock full of examples of laws on our books that give corporations that ran nuclear weapons facilities free reign and exempt them from fines and penalties.  The author notes at the end of the book that the National Nuclear Security Administration is proposing a new plutonium pit factory (cost: $2 billion)-they believe that although we have tens of thousands of these items leftover from the seventies that maybe they wouldn’t work if we need to build another bomb.  Eye opening.

Stacy W.

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