chapter  11
8 Pages

Reporting on nuclear weapons of mass destruction

The Rocky Flats bomb factory
WithLen Ackland

“Reporting on Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Rocky Flats Bomb Factory” tells the story behind the writing of the author’s book, Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West. He writes, “I decided to tackle this perplexing question [of nuclear weapons] in the early 1990s by doing a case study of the then top-secret Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant located 16 miles from Denver, Colorado. Today, while most of the nearly ten-square mile bomb factory’s site has been declared a National Wildlife Refuge, its legacy lives on in its deadly bombs, former workers, tainted environment, and community conflict.” The plant stayed largely out of the public view until 1969 when a fire nearly burned through the roof of a building containing plutonium. Efforts by the EPA and state regulators in the 1970s were stymied by claims that nuclear weapons facilities were exempt from environmental laws. It was not until the mid-1980s that court decisions overruled this position. Finally, “workers revealed illegal environmental practices to regulators, resulting in a joint FBI/EPA raid on the plant in June 1989. That, plus the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War, led President George H. W. Bush to end the plant’s nuclear weapons mission in January 1992.”