Sacrificing safety on the altar of nuclear preparedness

Interviews | By Kevin C. Brown |

May 7, 2014 — Kate Brown is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of the new, prize-winning book, “Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters.” Her study focuses on the cities, people, and (increasingly toxic) environments surrounding the world’s first plutonium-manufacturing centers — one in the Soviet Union, and one in eastern Washington State, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In the conversation, Brown describes the production-over-safety attitude that led the military and corporate contractors at Hanford to slowly release more radioactivity into the biosphere than did the Chernobyl disaster. At the same time, she explains what bound workers to a (pl)utopian town at Hanford’s gates, Richland, Wash.

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