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 the State University of New York/College of New York, 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.

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail