Full Body Burden: Kristen Iversen At Rocky Flats

955 words - 4 pages

Most of us would like to think that history is based on civil negotiations between representatives from around the world. The fact is, war has always been a disease that spreads not only in the battle field, and infects all those who come in contact with it. In the case of nuclear weapons, the United States, like many countries, raced to produce some of the most deadly weapons. Kristen Iversen shares her experiences surrounding a nuclear production facility in Boulder Colorado called Rocky Flats. The events at Rocky Flats are fuelled by secrecy and widespread hazards, it is the integration of these concepts to various aspects of her life that are at the center of Full Body Burden.

In order to better understand the historical context of nuclear development it seems to me as though Iversen dove into a fair amount of investigative journalism. The book focuses primarily on the events of Rocky Flats and her life through a narrative nonfiction interpretation. By providing a journalist approach, Iversen makes it easy for the reader to build a relationship with the characters presented throughout the book. At times I found myself visualizing the intensity of the fires, the whirlwind of emotions from locals, and the lasting environmental impacts that would not only plague Colorado, but taint the reputation of what it means to be human.

The title Full Body Burden refers to the amount of radioactive material present in a human body, which acts as an internal and ongoing source of radiation. The parallel between her home life and the happening of Rocky flats is often very profound. Iversen describes a case in which mice have taken resident within her walls, cupboards and heat ducts. The solution to their extermination is the use of small boxes of poison in front of the heat vents. The incided is symbolic of the in 1959 incident in which barrels of radioactive waste were found to be leaking into an open field. The subsequent infectious cancer that was silently killing many of the residents in her community. Much like the the wind that carries the plutonium across Colorado as it slowly kills the community surround the plan. Both within her home and with her friends, Iversen grows accustomed to the smell (metaphorically speaking with regard to the plutonium).

At home, the wives of the Rocky Flats (owned and operated by Dow Chemical) employees thought the plant, was simply making cleaning materials. The naivety of Dow Chemicals’ operations brings back the memory of the previously stated story about the mice. Of course what is actually happening behind closed doors was in fact the manufacturing plutonium triggers, also referred to as pits. Without the residents' knowledge or concern, spewed tons of radioactive plutonium into their backyard. As...

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