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Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden, Reading at Barnes and Noble in Westminster, Colorado

August 30, 2018

Rocky Flats. The 24,100 Year Radioactive Pollution Problem (Actually that is just it’s half life; its toxicity probably lasts close to 200,000 years).

Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden, held a reading last night (August 29, 2018) at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Westminster, Colorado. A new book, co-authored with a number of others, is coming out soon. Iversen commented that a film documentary of Full Body Burden will soon be out for viewing as well. All those newcomers flocking to Colorado’s Front Range these days should read the book to get a taste of what lies under the surface of some of the state’s breathtaking views. In fact, everyone everywhere should read it!

Rocky Flats produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. It caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.

Iversen read a selection from the new book, stories of Rocky Flats whistle blowers, all moving, heartbreaking stuff, of how they were savaged by fellow employees at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant for testifying about health issues during Grand Jury hearings in 1988 that soon lead to the permanent closing of the plant. Iversen also read a selection about former director of the Jefferson County (Colorado) Health Department, Dr. Carl Johnson, fired from his job after a smear campaign by local real estate interests, angered that Johnson refused to issue building permits for developers wanting to build homes on radioactive polluted land.

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Tad Zeigler, former Rocky Flats employee opposed to opening of the plant grounds as a wildlife preserve.

I’ve been to Iversen’s reading once before a number of years ago. Then and now, it was to a packed audience that included a number of former Rocky Flats employees and many residents of the west Denver suburbs (Westminster, Arvada, Wheatridge) in the neighborhood of the plant.

Among those present last night was Tad Zeigler, former Rocky Flats quality control employee who is among those opposed to opening the lands surrounding Rocky Flats as a wildlife preserve.  Prior to Iversen’s reading, the evening program was introduced by Bonnie Graham Reed, of Candelas Grows, an organization, one of many opposed to the opening of the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge due to the dangers of plutonium and other radioactive forms of pollution.

Despite legal suits to prevent it, the preserve is scheduled to open in less than a month. A similar “glowing” wildlife preserve was opened on the grounds surrounding the Cherobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, site of one of the worst nuclear accidents ever, along with the Fukushima plant in Japan.

I went to Iversen’s presentation with Sister Pat McCormick, Sister of Loretto, an old friend of 45 years. Thirty five years ago, in 1983, along with “a Mennonite friend”, McCormick entered the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant, through a vial of blood on a facility sign in protest of the weapons of death being manufactured there. The vial included a mixture of blood from a Catholic, Moslem and Jew ( the Jewish blood having been mine, drawn by another dear friend, Dr. Patricia Seal) and then waited 45 minutes inside the facility to get arrested. For that gesture, McCormick spent time in a federal penitentiary (six months as I recall).

As McCormick related in a later interview:

In April of 1983, a Mennonite friend and I decided to do a witness inside the plant. We prayed with the community at a Mennonite church and then drove to the east side of the plant, where the employees entered. We were just waved through as if we were at a Broncos game. We parked close to the building where the plutonium was being used and knelt there and waited and waited until, finally, some employees let security know that we were there

After Iversen’s reading, Pat McCormick exchanged hugs and a few words with Iversen as I stood nearby, thinking how lucky I have been to have had such a wonderful friend. Here they are, pictured just below.

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Kristen Iversen and Pat McCormick exchange greetings.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill conklin permalink
    August 30, 2018 7:50 am

    Yes this is an excellent book when I read it I was glued to it but the scary thing is I live in north Denver within walking distance of this disaster

  2. Margy Stewart permalink
    August 30, 2018 8:58 am

    Wonderful account….very moving.Thank you!

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