Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Atomic States of America

The Atomic States if America is available on Netflix.

See also Pandora's Promise available on Netflix.

Source: Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll come back to Sheena Joyce, co-director of Atomic States of America, and Kelly McMasters, author of Welcome to Shirley...

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the largest festival of independent cinema in the United States, as we continue with our conversation with Sheena Joyce, the director of the film Atomic States of America, and Kelly McMasters, author of Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town.

AMY GOODMAN: When I first started in radio, one of the first documentaries I did was looking at the Shoreham nuclear power plant and the Three Mile Island disaster, because a number of people from Three Mile Island went to Shoreham, Long Island, to warn people: "Don’t let this nuclear power plant go online." And when people succeeded in preventing the Shoreham nuclear power plant from going full power, I think most people in this country thought nuclear power was dead, at least on Long Island.

KELLY McMASTERS: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: But Kelly McMasters, talk about this plant you just referred to, the Brookhaven National Lab plant, how it is that that was sort of, if you will, under the radar.

KELLY McMASTERS: It was very under the radar. And even the people in my town, who worked mostly service jobs there, didn’t quite get what was going on there. Because it was a federal laboratory and because it is enclosed in these Pine Barrens, you literally can’t see it. It’s on an old Army base, and you can’t—you have no access to it.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s not providing electricity for the people of Long Island.

KELLY McMASTERS: No, no. And it has won, you know, Nobel Prizes in physics, and it’s done some fantastic medical research. But since 1955, it’s also been leaking and having a really detrimental effect on the neighborhoods around it. It was actually when Shoreham became sort of a focal point of the island, and people realized—you know, we were all saying, "We don’t want nuclear power on the island," A, because it’s an island. There’s no way off if something happens. We are all on a sole source drinking water aquifer, so if something goes into the water, then it hits everybody, all three million people on the island. Once they started saying, "We don’t want nuclear on the island," and then they heard, "Wait, we already have it on the island?" and then all the picketers sort of moved from Shoreham over to the lab.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to The Atomic States of America, a remarkable film that has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In this clip, you, Kelly, and a local resident introduce us to Carlton Road, which is nicknamed "Death Row" because so many sick people live there.

KELLY McMASTERS: So right now we’re standing on Carlton, the street that was nicknamed "Death Row." Pretty much almost every house on this street had somebody who was sick with cancer or something else. People started realizing that they weren’t the only sick ones. Their neighbors were sick, as well.

RANDY SNELL: We would meet in people’s basements and their kitchens, and we’d talk about what we found. And, you know, we’d do research, and somebody would find something.

KELLY McMASTERS: All signs seemed to point to what was beyond this barbed-wire fence.

RANDY SNELL: These are all rhabdomyosarcoma cases. A is my daughter. Shirley, here, all the other cases are all within the confines of real close to the Brookhaven National Laboratory. I knew there was a laboratory at Brookhaven. But I pictured this as a bunch of guys in white coats with test tubes, heating them up and, you know, doing whatever type of experiments.

REPORTER: The Brookhaven National laboratory conducts sophisticated nuclear experiments, producing an enormous amount of deadly waste.

RANDY SNELL: The only research I had said that my daughter’s cancer was caused by low-level radiation. And Brookhaven National Laboratory was the only source of that.

REPORTER: The lab sits atop the primary underground water supply for 1.3 million residents of New York’s Long Island.

ROBERT CASEY: It’s certainly not a risk to people outside the lab.

RANDY SNELL: What was explained to me is that "We’re the scientific minds out here. We know what we’re doing. And you need to trust us that we wouldn’t do anything to intentionally harm you."

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a clip from a new film called The Atomic States of America. Go further with "Death Row."

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