Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Most Lucrative Incentive for Nuclear Power in the History of the United States

The just-published Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town is a book about a community, tragedy and governmental malfeasance. Written by Kelly McMasters, who teaches writing at Columbia University and grew up in Shirley, it has broad significance.

It’s the story of how Walter Shirley, a Brooklynite who trained at the Camp Upton in Suffolk County during World War I later built a community named for him south of the Army camp and how, after World War II, the federal government turned Camp Upton into Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).

Ms. McMasters chronicles how BNL has had a terrible impact on surrounding communities—notably Shirley. She tells of clusters of cancer among people who see the illnesses they and their children have suffered as being caused by radioactivity from BNL.

This is a widespread problem. There are major radioactive messes at virtually all the national nuclear laboratories, most originally set up as part of the Manhattan Project, the World War II crash program to build atomic bombs.

Also at these facilities, there have been intense efforts to suppress information about their impacts. I did a media journal article a while back on how after the New Mexican of Santa Fe published a series—“Fouling the Nest”—on major health problems in the area around Los Alamos National Laboratory, pressure by Los Alamos on the newspaper resulted in the firing of its managing editor and the transfer of one reporter on the series, the resignation of the other.

BNL was set up by those involved in the Manhattan Project in 1947 to be a facility tied into major Northeast universities to do atomic research and develop civilian uses of nuclear technology. They sought a facility “built far from any heavily populated areas,” notes Ms. McMasters. She cites a government report setting a “requirement that the nuclear reactors and electro-nuclear machines be adequately removed from concentrations of population.”

Shirley and elsewhere around Camp Upton was then thinly populated. “In 1960, however, Shirley was the fastest-growing community in Suffolk County,” she says.

The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission “and the scientists themselves could have taken a look around and realized they were no longer on their own in the middle of the wilderness [and] recognized that the homes and neighborhoods sprouting up around their compound were too close to chance the radioactive nature of the work they were conducting…But none of this happened.”

Instead, BNL and its nuclear reactors kept firing away.

Ms. McMasters writes about several studies launched into cancer in Suffolk which she charges were rigged not to consider the radioactive impacts of BNL.

She tells of a class action lawsuit involving cancer victims who claim BNL as the cause. Richard Lippes, their attorney (also lawyer for Love Canal victims), cites a report by the federal government he has uncovered acknowledging that BNL did not “honor certain safety requests” because it felt “every dollar spent on health and safety is a dollar taken away from scientific research.”

Ms. McMasters details the attitude of denial when she meets with public relations people from BNL. BNL is emphatic in now denouncing Welcome to Shirley pointing to the questionable cancer studies.

Nuclear technology was started by government—and government continues to push it. With Wall Street uneasy about financing new nuclear plants, next week the U.S. Senate will begin debating a plan by Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Warner of Virginia to provide $544 billion—yes, with a b—as a subsidy for new nuclear power plant development. A Lieberman aide has described this “the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States.”

Unless it—and the overall atomic juggernaut is stopped—we all live in Shirley.

KARL GROSSMAN is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, author of several books on nuclear technology and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up.

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail